With the Financial Planning Association’s Annual Conference coming up in a few days at Music City Center in Nashville, it might be helpful to brush up on some tips for successful communication.
Chances are this isn’t your first rodeo, but for the first-timers, students, interns and the socially anxious among us, tips we recently gleaned from reading How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships by Leil Lowndes, could come in handy, both during one-on-one meetings at the upcoming conference and with your clients.
While we won’t recap all 92 tricks, we can boil it down to the top five recurring themes in Lowndes’ book. These might seem like no-brainers, but it doesn’t hurt to have a refresher.
1.) Use smiles, eye contact to convey genuine interest: Lowndes introduces what she calls the “flooding smile technique”—don’t automatically smile the same bright smile for everybody. In fact, don’t smile automatically at first when you meet somebody, wait a split second and then have a “flooding smile” that makes the person you are talking to feel you are the smile is unique for them.
2.) Use good posture and fidgeting to convey confidence: Maintain eye contact with the person who is speaking until they are finished. Lowndes calls this “sticky eyes.” When you must look away, try to do it slowly. This will convey your genuine interest.
Standing up tall will make you seem confident and limiting fidgeting (messing with your hair, touching your face, etc.) makes you seem more trustworthy.
3.) Match the mood, actions and tone of voice of the person you’re talking to. If you want to connect with somebody, it is helpful to match them on several levels. If they are rushing to a session, don’t stop them and launch into a long story. If you have impeccable manners and always hold your tea cup with one pinky out while your opposite hand holds the saucer, but the speaker doesn’t, match the way they do things to make them feel comfortable. Echoing their tone of voice is another way to make them feel more comfortable.
4.) Be specific. You are guaranteed to get two questions when you meet new people—where are you from and what do you do. Lowndes writes that you should never have a “naked” response to these standard questions. For example, she says that when somebody asks you where you are from, you shouldn’t simply say your city, add a unique fact about your city. Be specific about what type of financial planning you do or why your practice is named what it’s named (if there’s an interesting story there).
Also, if you’re thanking somebody, tell them why. For example, if you’re chatting up a presenter, tell them, “Thank you—your session gave me some great takeaways for my practice.”
5.) Be inquisitive, interested and curious. People like to talk about themselves and if you want to make a connection, ask lots of questions and encourage them to keep talking. Learn about them and don’t just “umm” along—build off what they are saying and ask them questions. Also, remember what they say, that way when you are in a group, you can introduce that person to the others and encourage them to tell a story they’ve told to you.
Hopefully some of these tips will help you make great connections at conference. We’re looking forward to seeing you in Nashville!
Ana Trujillo Limón is associate editor of the Journal of Financial Planning and the editor of the FPA Practice Management Blog. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @AnaT_Edits.