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Life is some much sweeter when you’re able to connect with others. It’s also great for business. And for those of you who want to connect but don’t know how to start conversations or what to say, this post is for you!

After many awkward attempts at networking, hours of reading, and listening to podcasts, I’ve learned there are 5 simple tips for befriending people. Practicing my suggestions will make talking with anyone fascinating, fun and easy.

Best of all, you will be adored while still being yourself.

1. Allow a 2 second pause before a response. Like your mom used to say, “Think before you speak.” No matter how emotional the conversation, collecting your thoughts before talking will prevent you from saying something you’ll regret AND be respectful of the other person. Conversing with someone who doesn’t cut you off is welcoming. By following this one tip, people will spill the beans and tell you everything about their lives and think the world of you.

2. A simple question equals a simple answer. I have to admit, I’m still practicing this one. Being longwinded isn’t a good look on anyone. If someone asks you what you do and you tell them your whole life story, that person will avoid asking you anything else ever again.

3. Compliment and ask.
If a person captures your attention by what they’re wearing, reading, saying, etc. compliment them on it and ask about it. Starting a conversation with a genuine compliment is a positive and easy way to engage someone. Be specific in your compliment. Describing what you like and why paves the way to an engaging follow-up question.

4. It’s not about you.
Starting conversations is about being interested in the other person. This requires active listening and asking questions. If you’re constantly critiquing your every thought and move, you can’t be in the moment. If you can’t be in the moment, you can’t focus your attention on getting to know others. So GET OUT YOUR HEAD! Stop worrying and self-criticizing and start being curious. The beauty of being human is that we’re all seriously flawed beings with insecurities. Not to mention, we’re all weirdos too!

5. Be aware of your facial expressions.  There are some of us who naturally hold a mean look on our faces. If that’s the case practice a more approachable look.  I had the habit of mean mugging people and wondered why no one wanted to talk with me.  Yet once I changed my neutral facial expression, strangers initiate conversations with me on a regular basis.

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