“How To Talk To Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships” by Leil Lowndes

Book review written by: Danielle Woods

This January as I started to toss around which book to review this month, I kept coming back to something my Mentor, Kerrie Bloss, had asked me earlier that day. “What is something that you hope to get out of Women’s Network?” she said energetically, tossing her fiery red hair behind her ear. When I thought it over, one of the most fundamental skills I was hoping to expand was the simple charm of drumming up conversation. I remembered all of the Women’s Network Luncheons I had attended where the banquet room was utterly buzzing with fresh faces, but how to strike up conversations with these new people? I definitely needed a crash course.

“How To Talk To Anyone” is the self-help refresher that we could all use this month to remind us how to break the ice and develop networking relationships everywhere we go. I enjoyed reading about things that I honestly would not have considered in social situations like the incredible significance of posture in a room full of people. As it turns out, people are more likely to engage in conversation with someone who has a confident standing position (just remember that your belly button should be facing the ceiling rather than the floor and your body will do the rest). “Great Posture, a heads-up look, a confident smile, and a direct gaze. The ideal image for somebody who’s a Somebody.”- Leil Lowndes

I also learned that successful conversationalists enter the room with the “there you are!” thought process rather than an “I’m here!” attitude. Taking interest in others first and asking more about them rather than starting with information about yourself leads to longer, more engaging conversations says Lowndes. The author also describes engagement as responding to the individual for who they are rather than for the simple fact that you both happen to be in the same room. “Don’t flash an immediate smile when you greet someone, as though anyone who walked into your line of sight would be the beneficiary. Instead, look at the other person’s face for a second. Pause. Soak in their persona. Then let a big, warm, responsive smile flood over your face and overflow into your eyes. It will engulf the recipient like a warm wave. The split-second delay convinces people your flooding smile is genuine and only for them.”- Leil Lowndes.

One of my favorite quick-tips I learned from this book was the “Watzit.” A Watzit is just a simple visual tool or prop that you can wear that might be unusual and guide people to question you about it or compliment you on it (“Hey, What-Is-It?”). This could be a bow tie, colorful glasses, a unique purse, anything that might draw attention and work as an ice breaker on both sides (yes, I’m running through all the people I know who already do this as well). Lowndes also believes in the fake-it-until-you-make-it concept, pointing out that if you have absolutely nothing to say in a conversation, you can still stand nearby, listening to the discussion with a confident friendly look. Chances are, even if you feel strange about doing so, the people you are trying to converse with will take this as a confident move on your part. “When you act as though you like someone, you start to really like them,” Lowndes writes.

I highly recommend this fairly quick read to sharpen your conversation skills and give your networking charm a shot in the arm.  If what Leil Lowndes says is true, that “Whenever people meet you, they take an instant mental snapshot. That image of you becomes the data they deal with for a very long time,” we certainly need to invest in putting our best foot forward from the beginning.