Are you meeting a businessman, attending a networking event or business conference? If YES, here are 50 ideas on how to start a business conversation with anyone via email, chat, text or in person; and keep it going.
The first rule of business conversation is never make it obvious that you are trying to benefit from your prospect. Yes, you are trying to score some deals or sales but the more obvious you make it to your prospect that you actually need their help, the less likely you would be able to get anything out of them- it is just basic human psychology.
This is why you should never start a business email with stuff like “Hi, my name is Eric, a marketer from XYZ company.” This is the fastest way to get them to dump your mail in their trash bin. Starting a business conversation successfully require strategies – strategies that I am going to show you in this article. So let’s first look at interesting ways to start a business conversation via email without being so annoyingly obvious.
How to Start a Business Conversation Via Email and Keep It Going
- Give Them a Shocking Statistic
One interesting and effective way to get the attention of your prospective customers is to send them an email with a shocking statistic as the subject, and I don’t mean boring and cliché statistics like “Recent study reports have shown that about 50% of Americans are overweight”. I’m talking about statistics that would make them do a double take and force them to read your mail.
If you are selling a financial management product or service for instance, statistics like “Do you know that according to Forbes, 63% of Americans do not have enough savings to cover a $500 emergency- Do you fall into this category?”
This is likely to get your prospect’s attention especially if he is one of those people who have this financial challenge. The statistics don’t have to be shocking though, you can also settle for interesting statistics- basically anything that can grab your reader’s attention.
2. Tell Them That You Have a Solution to Their Problem
This time, you are telling them out-rightly that you need them to buy something from you but you are going to make it look like you do not need their help and they are the ones who need yours. Figure out a particular pain point and use it as your keyword in the subject or opening line of your mail. For example, you could say something like “Hey, I help people like you erase errors in their credit reports”.
This strategy is very effective when you are dealing with busy individuals who barely have time for chitchats and witty games.
3. Act Like You Already Know Them
You can look for something interesting about this person like maybe their blog, social media account or a book they wrote and refer to it in your mail. Something like “Hi, I just read your post on marketing solutions for small businesses and I’m wondering if you have some minutes to talk.”
You would have indirectly flattered your prospect by making them feel like they have written or done something capable of interesting another person, so with that state of mind, they would be more receptive of you and willing to chat with you.
You have to be careful with the way you would follow up though because if you are unable to follow up smoothly, your prospects may see through your schemes and that may piss them off.
4. Find out Something about Their Company
This is the company version of the previous point. In cases where you are dealing with a company and not a single individual, you can win them over by talking about something that the company had just done- it could be an event, a policy they just introduced or something closely related to what you are trying to sell to them.
This would not only make for a great conversation starter but would also show that you are an intelligent person who is meticulous and pays attention to details.
5. Ask a Question about Their Pain Points
This is a very effective for getting the attention of your leads. Look for a target keyword that describes their problem and use it to formulate a question that would grab their attention. For instance, you can ask a question like “Is Personal Tax a Problem for You Right Now?”
There is a very huge probability that this would convert because here you are having sleepless nights about your personal tax computing and someone just decides to send you a message out of the blues looking like they have the solution to your problem- the least you would want to give them is a few minutes of your time to see if they really have the solution you need.
And once you get their attention, you quickly follow up with a smart strategy that would help you score some sales.
6. Ask Them for Advice
If you are dealing with an individual, this is another brilliant way to start a business conversation via email. It boosts a person’s ego to know that they are important and can be of help to another person, so when you ask them for advice, you massage their ego and end up getting their attention in return.
7. Remind Them of a Connection You Share
Perhaps you worked on a project together in the past, went to the same high school or college or your kids go to the same school, you can milk this and use it as a brilliant conversation starter. Don’t try to misconstrue your relationship or come off as annoying, this should be a gentle way to establish communication- don’t make them think you are a stalker or Paparazzi.
8. Mention a Mutual Contact
If you have a mutual friend or if someone made a referral, you can mention that person in your email and say something like “Hello, Mark Foster recommended we talk”. Because it is a familiar name, they would be more open to talking with you and you would be very lucky if it turns out that this is someone that they have great respect for.
9. Send Them a Congratulatory Message
If your prospect recently switched companies, got a promotion on their current job or recorded any significant achievement or progress, you could milk this and start your email with a congratulatory message because it provides a positive atmosphere to start your relationship with them.
10. Give Helpful Suggestions for Improvement
If you don’t mind giving out some advice or consultation for free, you can use it as a tool to win prospects over. Find out what their pain point is and see if you can offer some helpful advice to help them sort their problems out. This does two things for you- it establishes your credibility in your field and it also makes them warm up to you because you would take the position of a giver and not a taker.
11. Give Them Free Material
Another strategy that works is to offer them some valuable material or service for free. A starting sentence like “Hey, I have this business plan software that helps you write your business plan in 30 minutes. I thought that you might need it for your XYZ project so I’m giving it to you for free. Let me know if you need help with anything else”
Your prospect would just be there like “Is he my guardian angel or what?” That is if what you offer them is something really valuable, otherwise it is straight to the bin; mail, gift and all.
12. Argue With Them
You need to be smart about this though, so that it doesn’t backfire but sometimes, a quick way to get a prospect’s attention is to choose an entirely different standpoint from theirs. You could disagree with some of their views or standpoints on critical issues. Choose a soft approach so you don’t come off as rude or condescending. Rather than use a line like “I strongly disagree with you on XYZ” for instance, you could choose a softer approach like “Don’t you think the government’s policy on XYZ makes your recommendations a tough one to follow through with.” You know, something like that.
Remember that the goal is to start a conversation with them so that you can sell something to them (or anything else you hope to get from them) and not to start some e-war, so you should always keep this in mind while arguing away.
13. Talk about a Trending Event
There is always something that the world is talking about- watch news channels, read newspapers, blogs and magazines and find out what is trending and see how you can use it to start a conversation with your prospect. It would be perfect if you are able to relate it to the product or service you are trying to sell. For instance, if a popular celebrity was just convicted for tax fraud, you can seize that opportunity to sell your personal tax accounting software. A trending topic is sure to garner the attention of most people.
14. Be Weird
Just as I began to write this article, a mail came into my phone that said “Where is my friend Eliza?” My name is not Eliza and the last person whom I knew bore the name Eliza, was my late great-grandmother and there is just no way this person is asking about my great granny whom I never even met. So I was compelled to read to mail to find out who Eliza was, and why this person was asking me of her.
Well, it turns out Eliza was this guy’s coffee maker that got stolen and the mail was a product review for another beautiful coffee maker- well, I already read it.
My point is, being weird sparks the curiosity in people (sometimes, in an irritating way) and would compel them to give you attention. It is however up to you to find the balance between irritating and innovative.
15. Ask to Meet Them
You would be surprised that this very direct approach actually works. In a lot of cases, when you ask to meet people, you are stroking their egos as they would feel really important and would want to know why you need to meet them. Of course, this doesn’t work for everyone- busy execs and CEO’s get similar mails regularly so you would have to choose your target wisely.
16. Send a Dummy Video
This is another clever way to start an email conversation that compels people to read the mail to the end and not just click in and out. You could put up a photo that looks like an embedded video, and inside the box, you would write a bold text saying “Sorry, this video does not exist” then you follow up the photo with a text saying “Need to skip the video? Read this quickly instead” then you follow it up with your blurb.
The publishers of Nectify blog call this one their favorite way of beginning a conversation with email marketing as it always gets them more response than conventional methods.
17. Use Reverse Psychology
A popular network marketer used this once and he says it got him his highest open rates till date. As the subject of the mail, he simply wrote “I know you wouldn’t read this mail …………and you would be wrong.” Of course nobody likes to be wrong, so that explains the open rates going through the roof.
18. Tell Them What they are Doing Wrong
If they are leaving too much money on the table or doing something they shouldn’t be doing or ignoring something they should be doing, go straight to the point in your mail and tell them exactly what they should be doing instead, and how you can be of help.
19. Project the Benefits
Rather than waste time beating about the bush, you could simply just pick out the single most important benefit of your product and insert it in the subject of your mail. Your most important benefit should be able to grab the attention of your prospects.
20. Tell Them You are Within The Area
This technique is probably older than you but it still works. Just tell them you have a meeting or an event within the area and you are wondering if they are free for a meet-up. By doing this, you are going personal with your prospect and you would stand a better chance of getting their attention.
Now if you ever have the opportunity to attend any conference or networking event that you are sure of meeting businessmen and businesswomen, or even if you are chanced to be in the gathering of business people, you should know that it is your opportunity to learn from them, get them to be your mentor and if possible strike a business deal with them if you know you already have a product or service out there.
It is a known fact that people who are ahead of us or people who are already successfully at what we dream of doing have a lot of things to teach us if indeed we want to become like them. Any entrepreneur that has the mindset of learning, especially from proven and tested hands will always make headway with his or her business.
Here are practical ways (ideas) an aspiring entrepreneur can strike a conversation with a businessman or woman at a conference or networking event;
Practical ideas on How to Start a Business Conversation Via Email and Keep It Going
- Read Their Books
When you are invited to a conference or networking event and you know that you would meet successful businessmen and women- epecially if someone you have longed to meet would be attending the event, you will do yourself some favor by ensuring that you strike up a conversation with them, or with the person you really want to meet with.
If the person has authored a book, it would be a good platform to start from. Ensure that you buy and read their books. You can as well arm yourself with their book when going for the conference or networking event. The truth is that if the author (businessman or woman) sees you holding their book, they are likely going to be attracted to you.
If not, you can walk up to them and tell them that you have read their books and let them know all what you have learned from reading their books. It is a good way of striking a conversation with them and such conversation might be the gateway to your business success.
- Arm Yourself with Your Business Card
It is the norm for anyone who is attending a conference or business networking event to go with his or her business card. With a good and presentable business card, you can earn yourself a meeting with a successful businessman or woman.
All you need to do is ensure that when it is time for networking, that you exchange your business card and if chance presents itself, tell the businessman or businesswoman about the kind of business you are into. It is indeed a cool way of striking a conversation and perhaps establishing business relationship with the businessman or business woman. If the person is in the same line of business with you and you want him or her to mentor you, it will be a good opportunity to request mentorship from them.
- Read about Their Business
If you have ever attended any conference or business networking event, you will agree that time is allotted to networking. If you know that a successful businessman or woman you truly want to meet is going to be at the event, ensure that you take out time to read about their business. The truth is that people don’t get tired of hearing about themselves or the success they have achieved.
So, if you have the opportunity to strike a conversation with them, don’t start with telling them about yourself, ensure that you center the conversation about them and their business. It will enable them listen to you longer than you imagined and they perhaps might give you the opportunity to learn from them especially if you hope to start a business in the industry they have conquered.
- Invest in Their Shares
If you are going to be attending a conference or business networking event with a successful business man or woman whose company has shares in the stock exchange, you should try as much as possible to purchase their shares especially if you are interested in the industry they own a business in and you want to start a business in that line. This will give you a discussion platform if you have the opportunity to talk to them in the event.
You might start with ‘I am a shareholder in your company and I am proud to be part of the company because of the success of the company in the stock exchange…’ If you start a conversation with praising someone, you are likely going to get another opportunity for a longer conversation, and that will afford you the opportunity to learn one or more things about how they were able to build their business. You can as well request that they mentor you.
- Make Use of Their Services or Products
This is one of the easiest means of getting the attention of the businessman or woman you desire to network with in any conference or business networking event. A quick example, if you are going to be attending conference or business networking event with a businessman or woman that is into the manufacturing of suits and you want to meet them in person and network with them. It will be a lot easier to get their attention by putting on their suit.
If the businessman or woman spots you putting on their products, it will be easier for them to engage you in a conversation. This idea is more desirable if the businessman or woman is just ascending in the fashion industry. If you are interested in that line of business, it is an avenue to let them know that you want to learn the trade under their tutelage. You never can tell, you might win yourself a place as an intern in their company.
- Pick Genuine Interest in Them
Smart people know when people come to them only based on what they intend getting without any commitment to the relationship. If you know that you will be attending a conference or business networking event with someone you desire to mentor you or someone you want to meet, it will be to your best interest to pick genuine interest in them and in their business.
The truth is that before you talk to someone about what you want from them, make sure you first show genuine interest in them and in what they do. It will give you the privilege to engage them in longer conversation or book another appointment with them for a business meeting.
- Be Courteous and Friendly
Being courteous and friendly at a first meeting will always earn you another opportunity/meeting. If you have the chance of meeting with a businessman or woman that you longed to meet or someone you want to mentor you, you will do yourself a favor by ensuring that you are courteous and friendly not just to them, but to everyone around them.
As a matter of fact, being courteous and friendly should be part of your person if you want to become a successful businessman or woman, and if indeed you want to get successful people to mentor you or invest in your business.
- Walk Up to Them and Introduce Yourself
If you are in a conference or business networking event with a businessman or woman that you want to learn from, someone that you want to mentor you, one of the ideas to employ to strike a conversation with them is to walk up to them and introduce yourself. Just ensure that the atmosphere is right and you know what to say to get their attention. The truth is that if the atmosphere is not right, you might not be able to get a good conversation from them.
- Try and Sit or Stay Close to Them
If you are privileged to attend the same conference or business networking event with a business man or woman that is successful in the industry you intend starting your business, one of the easiest means of striking a conversation with them is to ensure that you sit close to them. It is important to state that this can only be possible if the event is free-sitting style and preference is not given to anybody.
This is so because most successful people and businessmen and women who have attained celebrity status in the society would always want preferential treatment especially as it relates to sitting when they attend conferences and business networking events.
- Be Willing to Volunteer at Conference and Networking Events
If you attend a conference or networking event where the organizers call for volunteers, you should be willing to volunteer for such an event. This is especially if you know you may not get access to such event by virtue of your status. The truth is that conferences and business networking events that have high profile businessmen and women in attendance usually are not open to all and sundry.
So, if you know that you want to meet someone at the event, and the organizers call for volunteers, be willing to volunteer, it will give you the opportunity to meet your business role model, strike a conversation with them and perhaps get support from them as it relates to starting your own business.
- Dress Good Always
There is a saying that you should dress the way you want to be addressed. The truth is that your dress style at an event can quickly give a perception about who you are. So, if you know that you will be attending a conference or business networking meeting with a businessman or woman that you are interested in, it will pay you to dress good or if you want to go the extra mile, you can dress like the businessman or woman, it might endear the businessman or woman to you and that will be a good opportunity to strike a conversation with him or her.
- Tell Them Something Good about Them
As earlier stated, people will never get weary of hearing about themselves. So, if you know you want to get the attention of a businessman or woman that you want to learn from or someone you want to mentor you, ensure that you tell them something good about them. It could be about their dress sense, their sense of humor, their exploit in the business world and it could be virtually anything as long as it sounds good in their ears. Even if they have failed before or are involved in any scandal, you are not expected to bring it up when you have the opportunity join them in a conversation.
- Try to Render Help if They Call for One
Your ability to render help to someone who calls for it is a gateway to striking a conversation with them. Anybody can call for assistance and it could be the businessman or woman who you long to meet. For example, a businessman coming into a city for the first time might want to know how to get to a location from the venue of the event or could be simply looking for someone to call the attention of the organizer of the event for him.
If you are lucky to be in the position to help, by all means do it gracefully. With that, it would be easier for you to strike a conversation with them and that might land you an intern job in their organization or get them to mentor you. Just ensure that you are always at the right place at the right time.
- Call Their Attention to Anything They Need to Know at the Event
A good idea on how to strike a conversation with a businessman or woman in a conference or business networking event is to call their attention to anything they need to know at the event. For example, the businessman or woman may not be aware that attendees are expected to drop their business cards in a tray or get the conference materials from a particular stand at the venue of the event.
If you have such information and you are certain that the businessman or woman does not, you can politely call their attention to it. That of course can earn you a spot to strike a conversation with them. Such conversation can land you a business deal from them or the required support you need to take your business to the next level. Just ensure you do this in such a way that it will not make you appear to be forward because this idea can be a put-off to most people if they know that you are forward and an attention seeker.
- Appreciate Their Sense of Humor
This can only be applied if they get hilarious during their speech or when addressing attendees of the conference or business networking meeting. If the business person you intend meeting with shows a good sense of humor in an event, be quick to appreciate their sense of humor. It is an avenue to strike a conversation that might open doors for business mentoring opportunity with such person. Just ensure that you know how to start the conversation and be tactful in directing the conversation towards achieving your aim.
- Be Humble and Confident
Humility and confidence will always earn you a place amongst successful people. If you know you will be attending the same conference or business networking meeting with a successful businessman or woman you want to learn from, one of the leverages you need to strike a conversation with them is to remain humble and confident. The truth is that no one will want to identify with someone who appears to be arrogant or lacks confidence.
If given the opportunity to engage your role model in a conversation, ensure that you display sincere humility and confidence. With that, you can earn yourself another opportunity to meet with them and that perhaps might be the gateway you need to launch your brand in the business world especially when you are able to get support from the businessman or woman.
- Wear Good and Attractive Perfume
When someone who smells good passes by people, there is a tendency to attract attention. People will always turn to look towards his or her direction and in some cases some people might ask them the name of the perfume they are wearing.
So, if you know you are going to be attending the same conference or business networking event with a successful businessman or woman that you want to meet and learn from, one of the leverages you need to get them interested in you is to ensure that you wear a good perfume. If you pass by them and you are lucky, you might be asked the name of the perfume you are wearing and that can an avenue to strike a conversation with them. If you are lucky to get this scenario playing out, ensure that you grab such opportunity with both hands.
- Be Well-Cultured and Well-Mannered
Someone that is well-cultured and well-mannered will always be spotted out of a crowd. Some people usually miss out of opportunities when they display their lack of good culture and ill-manner. If you know that you will be attending the same conference or business networking meeting with a successful business man or woman who you want to learn from or someone you want to mentor you, you just have to be well-cultured and well-mannered. The truth is that people hardly stand people that are ill mannered and uncultured.
- Engage only in Meaningful Conversation
The opportunity veer off from decent conversation when you are in a networking meeting cannot be ruled out. If you have the opportunity to start a conversation with a successful businessman or woman that you want to learn from, someone you want to mentor you and perhaps someone you need support from, then you should try as much as possible to only engage in meaningful and relevant conversation. Try as much as possible not use foul language or bring in conversations that are not related to the meeting.
- Be at the Right Place at the Right Time
Being at the right place at the right time can be attributed to luck, but it has given many people the platform they need to launch their business and go ahead to become successful people. So, if you know that you will be attending same conference with a businessman or businesswomen that you want to meet, learn from and get support from, then you should ensure that you stay at the right place at the right time.
For example, you might position yourself in a place where you can easily see and freely talk to the businessman or woman you want to meet. Take for instance, if the MC of the event asks participants to turn to the person next to them to carry out a task and you are chanced to be sitting next to the businessman or woman you want to meet, that will give you the opportunity to strike a conversation with them. If you are prepared for such opportunity, then you should ensure you maximize it.