As a sports broadcaster and keynote speaker, I talk for a living. I’m generally confident in my skills and abilities to work a room, make a genuine connection and develop business relationships.
My confidence was tested during Spring Training when I entered the Mariners clubhouse and realized just how many new players were in it. I had to psych myself up more than once. Giving into those insecurities, avoiding introductions, retreating into the corner of the room are all things I thought about doing. If I had, I wouldn’t have been doing my job, and I would have set myself up for failure later in the season when I really did need an interview.
These reminders, or “mantras” helped me get in the right frame of mind for conversations I had. They work around professional athletes and they work around your colleagues. Give ’em a try.
5 Mantras that Matter in a Business Conversation
Your resume isn’t the defining factor – you are. Guys in the clubhouse don’t care how long I’ve worked in the industry or how many years I’ve covered the team. They care about how they feel when we’re having a conversation. Am I easy to talk to? Interesting? Or are they bored out of their mind and trying to figure out what we have in common?
When you’re trying to convince colleagues to like you or talk to you, handing them a resume doesn’t mean a thing.
Neither does telling them about your career accomplishments. You know what does work? Talking to them. It’s why you should be intentional with your small talk.
People want to know you. Mariners pitcher Yusei Kikuchi told me that after signing his contract he went out and bought a Playstation because he heard his teammates liked to play video games. He wanted to relate to his teammates and vice versa. If his teammates had never said anything about their hobbies or interests outside of baseball, Kikuchi wouldn’t have been able to make an easy connection.
There are plenty of people who want to get to know you. It’s up to you to give them a place to start. Having a conversation, talking about things outside of work gives colleagues a chance to relate and get to know you.
Practice makes easier. In baseball pitchers and catchers can’t develop the trust and rapport they need in a game without actually working with each other. It’s not easy to get to that point, but practice makes it easy.
You’ll never be perfect, but just like anything else, conversations get easier the more you practice. You can’t expect to get better talking to people without actually, you know, talking to people.
Relationship quality beats introduction quantity. When I’m in a room full of people, whether it’s a baseball clubhouse, a football locker room or a networking event, I limit my introductions to four a day. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like I’m doing enough – especially if I’ve got 30+ new players to meet. But relationships don’t happen after one conversation. There has to be a follow up strategy.
Build relationships, offer advice. Guys who have been around the game for 10 or more years have seen it all. They’re a great resource for younger players and wealth of knowledge – that likely goes unused until a relationship get established. Veterans know forcing advice on a teammate doesn’t work. Responding to a teammate’s request for help or advice does.
You might have great advice to give, but if no one is asking for it, it likely falls on deaf ears. Build relationships that encourage colleagues to ask questions and seek your advice
Repeat these mantras as needed and psych yourself up for any conversation you need to have in business.
If you’d like more advice and strategies on how to approach business conversations download 10 Mistakes You’ll Make in a Business Conversation – but Shouldn’t.
Jen Mueller is a badass at business communication. She’s also a member of the Mariners television broadcast team, the sideline radio reporter for the Seattle Seahawks, the founder of Talk Sporty to Me and a sought after keynote speaker. Her approach to business communication is based on nearly 20 years inside sports locker rooms. Hire Jen for your next conference or event: Jen@TalkSportytoMe.com.