Five Ways to Improve Your Communication Skills

5-ways-to-improve-your-communication-skills

Whether you’re new to networking events and want to make a good first impression, or you’re a seasoned veteran trying to land that all-important business referral, you’ve probably wondered if there’s something you can do to connect better with people. Business referrals are all about making connections, so many of the best business networking referrals come from having great conversations. Here are a few things you can do to strengthen your communication skills and get the most out of your professional networking groups.

Use Active Listening

Coming into a conversation curious about the other person is key. People don't just want to talk, they want to be heard. So showing them that you're listening to what they have to say will build a stronger connection. Remember, everyone's an expert on something. Try using these active listening techniques:

  • Give them your full attention.
  • Don’t multi-task in your mind. Keep your head clear of distractions and counterpoints.
  • Wait until they’ve finished speaking before adding your own thoughts.
  • When you speak, start by paraphrasing what they’ve just said.

Be Brief, Be Specific

Practice that elevator pitch! If you only had ten seconds to introduce yourself to someone, what would you say? When introducing yourself or answering questions, give just the right amount of information for the other person to understand while being mindful of their time. You’ll have plenty of time to elaborate and fill in the details when they ask follow-up questions.

Ask Open-Ended Questions

Questions that can be answered with a simple "yes" or "no" are conversation killers. Approach the conversation like a reporter would and ask questions that start with one of the five W's: Who, what, when, where, and why. If you’re having trouble coming up with questions, here are some ideas for what to ask for from business referrals.

Mind Your Nonverbal Communication

When you’re speaking with someone, they’re not just listening to your words. They’re also watching your body language and paying attention to your eyes.

  • Maintain eye contact. Don’t shift your eyes to the exit.
  • Keep an open body position and avoid crossing your arms or pointing your body away from them.
  • Be aware of your hand gestures. Keeping your hands open and out of your pockets can help you look more engaged. If you’re not sure what to do with them, you can always hold something like a pen, your business card, or a drink from the bar.
  • Don’t forget to smile!

Pay Attention to Your Tone

There’s far more to communication than just your words. Your tone is especially crucial when speaking in person. We’ve all heard that it’s not what you say but how you say it. The pitch, volume, and intonation of your voice can be just as important as the words you choose.

Ready to Join a Business Referral Group?

It might be tempting to use a business networking event just to search for potential clients. That’s certainly important, but it’s also a good opportunity to communicate with other professionals in your field, find out about potential job opportunities, discover new areas to expand your business, and much more.

Find one of 4BR's professional networking groups near you and start building effective business connections today.

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