The question comes up frequently, “When you entertain someone for business (for example, when you take someone to lunch), what do you talk about?” A good technique is to get your contacts talking about themselves. You simply have to develop the skill of asking good questions.
You are not required to ask people for business. You don’t have to boast about your service. Don’t push yourself to sell. Your primary goal in entertaining people is to build rapport and trust. This not only takes the pressure off of you to be a conversationalist, but it can actually be a more effective strategy for building rapport and trust.
Many years ago, Dale Carnegie, a famous author and teacher, inspired millions with his book How to Win Friends and Influence People. Carnegie frequently made the point that becoming genuinely interested in other people is the most effective technique for building rapport. He says, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
The key is genuine interest. Don’t try to feign interest. That will only feel manipulative and insincere. And people can often see through a veiled attempt at interest. Find something about the person that genuinely interests you. Then the interaction will be enjoyable for both of you.
Reveal Your Interest in Doing Business
Another question that often arises is, “How do you use entertainment without the risk of either feeling or appearing to be insincere?” You may have friends who are in a position to help you generate business. For example, you may know people who work for companies that need your services. But there is the risk that approaching your friends may inadvertently damage your friendship. Some of your friends might think that you were only using them to get business.
The solution is to reveal your intentions to do business. You explain that there is a business component to your relationship. You might say something along the lines of “I would like to invite you to lunch to talk about business.” You can reveal your interest in doing business without appearing insincere.
For more marketing tips, check out our book Selling in Your Comfort Zone.