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Networking tip: Stop Asking Questions and Start Making Statements

Posted by Ilise Benun on

Here’s another idea-in-progress (see my post from the other day about why to wear something unusual) for my “Welcome” session at the Creative Freelancer Conference in Boston on June 21. (It’s not too late to register and use my personal promo code “CMM12” for $50 off.)

I’ve always advised showing up at a networking event with your questions at the ready (e.g. Do you know a good accountant? Does your company buy outside creative services?) because it is an easy way to take the focus off of you and gather information simultaneously. 

But in my new favorite book, The Most Human Human: What Artificial Intelligence Teaches Us About Being Alive, Brian Christian suggests the opposite technique: make statements instead of asking questions. For example, instead of asking whether someone has any siblings, try the statement, You seem like an only child to me.

Why? The statement “simultaneously asks the question and hazards a guess. The guess is intriguing—we love to know what other people think of us, let’s be honest—and so now we have at least two distinct holds as far as our reply: to answer the question and to investigate the reason for the guess.”

In other words, the statement gives the other person two ways to respond, instead of only one, making the opportunity for conversation doubly rich.

Come to CFC and try it to see what happens!

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