people standing talking at party Attend enough parties and events, meet enough peopleand the numbers should eventually work in your favor. (Photo:Shutterstock)

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You are a true believer – attend enough parties andevents, meet enough people and the numbers should eventually workin your favor.  Picturethis:  You are at a wedding reception.  You meetother guests.  You go through “What do you do?” What now?  You know talking business with people you justmet is likely to make them feel awkward.

9 safe conversation topics

Your objective is to find some interests in common. You want reasons to keep in touch and a rationale for seeing themagain.  Here are nine safe areas:

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1.  Where do they live?  I'vealways liked “Where's home?” as a conversation starter.  Iheard it from someone who worked at a large financial servicesfirm.  It's a give-and-take conversationstarter.  They tell you and you tell them.  Youmight be neighbors.

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2.  Travel.  Most people doit.  When talking destinations, you've either been thereor you haven't.  It gives plenty of opportunities to drawthem out.  Maybe they are enthusiastic cruisers. What's their favorite ship?  River cruising has becomevery popular.

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3. Event features.  When attending afundraiser or gala event, usually everyone has an opinion about thedécor, music and food.  While the hors d'oeuvres are beingpassed, you might ask a fellow guest what they have tried sofar.

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4. Recreation.  This might be a bigChamber event.  You might be talking to a seniorexecutive.  You are both human beings–ask what they do forfun.  If they answer “I play golf,” you might counter,“What do you do when it rains?”  I credit my first branchmanager with that one.  This conversation gets you intothe areas of spectator sports, jogging and exercise too.

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5.  Gardening.  Big boxstores give it lots of space for a reason – it's verypopular.  If you feel awkward asking a total stranger ifthey grow vegetables or flowers, take the lawn routeinstead.  If your area has been having a dry summer, youmight bring up the drought conditions, asking what they are doingabout their lawn.

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6. House prices.  Is there anyone whodoesn't like talking real estate prices?  If they own,they might complain about the high prices people want now, whilebeing secretly gleeful they are living in an appreciatingasset.

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7. The compliment.  When you look atpeople, you get lots of clues.  Are they wearing awatch?  Jewelry?  Interesting tie?  Alapel pin from some society?  A school ring?  Anecklace or pendant?  A compliment wouldn't be out ofplace.  They might be a collector.  It might havebeen an anniversary present.

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8.  Children.  Ask abouttheirs.  Tell them about yours.  Maybe they aresimilar ages.  Maybe they go to the same school. If you know them from play group or school sports, a complimentshould make a good impression.

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9.  Golf.  It's stillpopular.  Where do they play?  Have they traveledto famous courses to play a round?  What was theirfavorite?  Did they watch the Masters?  What didthey think?

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All these questions draw a person out, giving them theopportunity to do the talking.  People usually like totalk.  You are learning things about them.  Youare starting to identify common interests.

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Bryce Sanders is president of PerceptiveBusiness Solutions Inc. He provides HNW client acquisition trainingfor the financial services industry. His book, “Captivating the Wealthy Investor” can be foundon Amazon.

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READ MORE:

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For your next prospecting meeting, forget thebinder

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10 commandments of prospecting for insuranceagents

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5 steps to holiday prospecting

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Bryce Sanders

Bryce Sanders, president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc., has provided training for the financial services industry on high-net-worth client acquisition since 2001. He trains financial professionals on how to identify prospects within the wealthiest 2%-5% of their market, where to meet and socialize with them, how to talk with wealthy people and develop personal relationships, and how to transform wealthy friends into clients. Bryce spent 14 years with a major financial services firm as a successful financial advisor, two years as a district sales manager and four years as a home office manager. He developed personal relationships within the HNW community through his past involvement as a Trustee of the James A. Michener Art Museum, Board of Associates for the Bucks County Chapter of the Fox Chase Cancer Center, Board of Trustees for Stevens Institute of Technology and as a church lector. Bryce has been published in American City Business Journals, Barrons, InsuranceNewsNet, BenefitsPro, The Register, MDRT Round the Table, MDRT Blog, accountingweb.com, Advisorpedia and Horsesmouth.com. In Canada, his articles have appeared in Wealth Professional. He is the author of the book “Captivating the Wealthy Investor.”