The 20-Second Connection:It’s Not WHAT You SayIt’s HOW You Say It

“Why does that happen to me? I don’t get it?"

My friend Trisha. She just got back from a dinner party.

“It’s the weirdest thing,” she continues, “Someone will ask me, “What do you do?” and it’s as if they just asked me to strip naked and do a dance. I feel this mild panic, and as I try to tell them about my coaching practice, the words kind of stumble out of my mouth, but they sound stupid and empty. I end up feeling small and embarrassed. And so disappointed in myself.”

Trisha is not alone. I know so many solo entrepreneurs who feel the same way. Even the most confident of the pack can feel cut off at the knees whenever they answer that notorious question: What do YOU do?

The truth is that when someone asks you that question, you’ve got about 20 seconds to answer, spark their curiosity, initiate a conversation and create a connection. In 20 seconds, you need to be immediately interesting and captivating while communicating the huge scope of what you have to offer. No wonder we feel pressured and on the spot!

How can you answer that question so that whoever is listening feels compelled to ask for more information? Can you say something that will never fail to initiate a lively conversation?

How can you create a real connection with someone in just 20 seconds?

When someone asks you, “What do you do?” your answer can either spark the other person’s interest or leave them longing for a change of subject.

All the hot-shot marketers in the world will tell you that your answer needs to center around how you meet the needs and desire of your client. It needs to have an emotional pull. It needs to illicit questions and personal interest on the part of your listener. (Next week, I’ll be giving you all the magical ingredients to create such a answer, so be sure to sign up to receive an email notice about upcoming articles! Just enter your email address in the “Updates in your inbox” located right over there, in the left sidebar.)

WHAT you say is important. But HOW you say it may be even more important.

Think about it. You just met a nicely dressed, professional woman. You ask her, “What do you do?” She gives you an amazing answer, something like, “I turn women entrepreneurs into multi-millionaires in less than one week’s time, guaranteed.” Now, that answer would probably inspire you to ask a few questions. Even if you haven’t the teeniest interest in becoming a multimillionaire yourself (yeah, right!), you would still want to know more.

But what if this woman looked at the floor the whole time she was talking with you? What if she seemed distracted and distant? What if her words sounded great, but she didn’t seem to be connected to what she was saying? Would you want to call her up and do business with her?

People respond to words, but they do business with people. This is why your words can be extraordinary, but if people don’t feel any kind of connection with you, if they don’t feel you are trustworthy or have their best interests at heart, they won’t want to do business with you or refer business to you.

This week, I want to give you the five essential qualities you must have to deliver your answer in a way that creates connection, credibility and the possibility of a future relationship with whomever you are speaking. Next week, I will give you the magical ingredients for creating an answer to that “What do you do?” question, so be sure to sign up to receive an email alert about that upcoming article. (As I said above, just enter your email address under “Updates in your inbox” located in the left sidebar. It’s right over there, on the left!)

1.    Be Present

When someone asks you, “What do you do?” that’s your cue to breathe and bring all of your attention into the present moment. Breathe and feel your breath in your body. This will help you bring yourself fully into your body, into your own skin AND into the present moment.

Be present and you will be able to communicate and respond authentically and appropriately.

2.    Be available

Now that you are present and accounted for, allow yourself to be available to this person. Don’t just launch into your dazzling, Busby Berkeley marketing message without first making sure you are allowing yourself to simply be with this person in a genuine and generous way. Allow your eyes to be available to them, not in a aggressive, got-to-make-eye-contact way, but in a receptive, soft-focus way. You are simply allowing your eyes to be available to this person in a way that says “I’m here. I’m available to connect with you right now, whether you choose to connect with me or not.”

When you allow yourself to be available in this way, whoever you are with will feel this availability and they will meet it with their own presence and receptivity. (You can get more information and a chance to experiment with being available in the “Engage Your Audience” CD. Check it out here.)

3.    Be sincerely interested

Don’t be interesting; be interested!

Yes, you want your answer to be interesting and provocative enough to spark a conversation but remember, your answer is not the star of the show here. The other person is the star right now. So, throughout your interaction, and even as you deliver your answer, hold a sincere interest in this other person.

Be more interested in this other person than you are in impressing them.

4.    Be Believable

The most fascinating answer in the world is only as good as it is believable. But here’s the deal. If YOU truly believe in what you are saying, if you feel it to be 110% true, that’s all that matters. Because if you believe it, those with whom you want to do business will believe you, too. You need to believe in what you are saying.

People know when they are listening to someone who’s full of it. They can sniff it out in a second. Believe in what you are saying. Respond with complete honesty, and people will know that you’re for real and they can trust you.

5.    Be Yourself

“Oh, no! Don’t ask me to be myself! Anything but that!”

Strangely enough, some people have a hard time accepting this fifth quality. Their resistance to just being who they are without any extra bells, whistles, and widgets comes from their belief that who they are is not enough. “I’m too shy.” “I’m not articulate enough.” “I feel too insecure to be interesting to anyone!”

Listen, if you try to be someone you’re not, if you try to know more than you know, or think something you don’t think, or act in a way that doesn’t come naturally to you, there is no way for to create an authentic connection with any one because YOU WON’T BE THERE TO CONNECT WITH! Some faking-it imposter will be there in your place.

Besides, it’s not about you. How articulate do you have to be to be present and available, to be honest and real? You don’t need to be any one other than who you are in order to show up, be present, be available, be sincerely interested, be believable and just be yourself.

If you want to explore and integrate these 5 qualities in your interactions with people, and if you want to create your own magnetic, perfect answer to the question “What do YOU do?” join me for “The 20-Second Connection” teleclass starting this month.  Check it out here.

There is a free Sneak Preview call on Thursday, June 15, at 5:00 pm Pacific Time. To register, go here. There will be a special bonus prize for those who participate in this call. What is it? Well, join us and find out!

Stay tuned for the next installment of this exciting topic next week when we dive into the essential ingredients for creating a magnetic answer to the question, "What do YOU do?"

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