The Art of First Contact

Jul 23

The Art of First Contact

Originally posted on March 13, 2014

Influence. The word used to describe an enormous subject and a highly prized skill set. This one word encompasses so much that a single blog post could never hope to really do it justice. So let me share a single facet that I have used to great effect time and time again – the ability to get someone I just met to open up and talk to me and having a conversation within two minutes.

This method is best used when approaching a total stranger. It can help you be confident even if you’re shy and want to make a new friend, network at an event or even ask someone out.

Start with a little alone time inside your own mind. By this I mean building confidence. Not too much, though, but enough to believe your chance of success is 99 percent if you play it right.

First, talk to yourself. Tell yourself, “I got this!” Be convinced. You can’t lose if you play it cool. Second, visualize walking up to a person and starting a conversation. All of this needs to be done prior to searching out a real person. Practice in your mind at home first.

Once you’ve build up a healthy dose of confidence, you can step out and meet people. Pick a total stranger to approach. For the first several attempts, pick someone withe something in common with you. This is going to be a linking point. Look for someone wearing clothing or jewelry you know something about. Perhaps they are carrying a book by an author you like and are knowledgeable about. It can be anything on their person or in their possession as long as you know something about it.

Next, walk up and compliment them on having the item. This may feel awkward, so don’t overdo it. You want to project a warm and friendly energy toward the other person.

The person, especially if it’s a female, may at first find you strange and close themselves off. This is natural. Speak to them in a friendly tone and project a sense that you are a safe person to be with. Center the conversation around them. Make them feel like they are one in a million. Ask non-personal questions at first and try to briefly relate some similar experience to them. This all helps you come across as non-threatening.

Continue to chip away at the ice with them until you are comfortable moving the conversation around to a new topic. Go slow and use neutral topics for the first encounter. Ask questions of a friendly nature, nothing too personal. Gather information on the surface, like “How long have you lived here?” or “Do you like your job?” are good ones to throw out there. they’re safe and non-intrusive.

By this point you should see the other person starting to open up. They will start asking you questions. Be open to this because it helps you become a person in their mind and builds trust.

Listen for catch words or phrases they use and incorporate them into your own dialogue. This builds rapport.

Lastly, always treat this person with respect. This will go a long way toward keeping your body language pure and appropriate.

A few don’ts:

  • Don’t violate personal space.
  • Never touch anyone who doesn’t touch you first.
  • Never force the issue. Respect opinions, beliefs, etc. The object is conversation, not transformation.

And the most important point:

  • Never become a nuisance.

You are asking for trouble if you start to annoy someone and don’t immediately back off. If you can’t engage that person in a conversation within two minutes flat, make a graceful exit. Always keep in mind that the art of “first contact” takes place in your mind first and flows outward.

Scott Routon is a certified life and relationship coach who helps others realize their dreams and potential.


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