Business is a contact sport, and there are many unique challenges that accompany day-to-day operations. As a business owner, one of the most important things you do is communicate with fellow business people. While effective conversation skills are key to success, many people struggle with mastering the art of networking. Here are several tips to help Tampa Bay business owners improve their conversation technique.

Start Formally

When it comes to business associates who you don’t know all that well, it’s better to start things off on a formal note. Assuming informality and not being mindful of your manners can offend potential partners and clients. Dress appropriately, avoid chewing gum and make sure you’ve swallowed food or a swig of your drink before talking.

Trade business cards and always begin and end a conversation with a handshake. Make a point of remembering names and any other details that will serve as a sign of your respect. As the conversation evolves, gradually become more casual to avoid seeming too sterile.

Ask Questions

There are a number of business-related questions to ask to help get the conversation rolling. Find out what product or service their business provides and ask about their history getting into their particular line of work. Show an interest in finding out what it is that makes them love what they do.

Pose specific questions that do not have one-word answers. Discussions related to client success stories and industry trends can lead to interesting conversation and help mix things up, especially in group situations.

Be an Active Listener

Make sure the focus is on the other person. Discover what their interests are and tailor the conversation accordingly.

Everyone has a story to tell, and you never know when a simple conversation can evolve into a lasting partnership. Give those on the other end of the conversation your undivided and active attention.

Consider Time and Space

Loud events or rushed environments are not conducive to successful conversation. Good business conversation calls for a relaxed environment free of time restraints or distractions. If you’re hoping to engage in meaningful conversation that may lead to potential partnership, avoid meeting up for cocktails and instead suggest a local coffee shop.

As with everything, good business conversation takes practice. Begin with these basics and consider hiring a personal or company business coach to take you step-by-step and help you improve your business speech.

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Call ActionCOACH Tampa Bay to learn how we can assist you with a variety of planning and management issues, from cultivating relationships with colleagues to ensuring your business soars to its highest potential. In the meantime, download our free eBooks to take steps towards success today.