Susan RoAne works the room during her kickoff presentation at AIM 2015 sponsored by the NAA.

Susan RoAne works the room during her kickoff presentation at AIM 2015 sponsored by the NAA.

In the digital age, old-fashioned human interaction sometimes feels like a dated concept.

Susan RoAne, the opening keynote speaker at the 2015 Apartment Internet Marketing Conference, drove home the notion that engaging an audience – whether sizable or a mere individual – is an overwhelming key to growing prospective business relationships.

Bestselling author of How to Work a Room, RoAne noted that a reported 80 percent of individuals were deemed shy in some form when her book was initially released in the 1970s. That number has climbed to a post-millennium 93 percent, ostensibly due to the increase in digital communication.

“Technology has separated us from being connected to each other,” RoAne said. “Now, I love Facebook. I love Twitter, and we’re celebrating our seventh anniversary this June. It’s really awful when your anniversaries are with social media instead of people. It’s kind of scary.”

With that in mind, RoAne delivered tips for a sparkling first impression. Practice an introduction. Keep it to a crisp seven to nine seconds. Link your introduction to the event. For instance, don’t reveal intricacies of your job when meeting someone at a wedding. Instead, reveal how you are connected to the bride and groom.

Another RoAne tip: When someone asks about your job, reveal what you do, not your title. For instance, an apartment community owner/operator could say: “I give families a launching pad to their lives.”

It beckons follow-up questions and engagement.

She squashes the misconception that small talk is trivial. Detailed surveys with adept conversationalists reveal that nearly none denigrated small talk.

“Small talk is the connective tissue of conversation,” RoAne said.

The idea, she explained, is to link the small talk to a story to foster engagement. Perhaps relay a personal anecdote about an experience with one’s hometown and build from there.

In addition, RoAne encourages people to ditch the “Don’t talk to strangers” adage learned in their youth. Instead, formulate what you have in common with people in a given room prior to arriving and play to the audience.

Her basic three steps for compelling interaction are tidily summed up in the acronym OAR. Observe. Ask. Reveal.

“Good things come to those who initiate,” RoAne said.

Editors Note: The AIM Producers would like to thank the National Apartment Association for sponsoring Susan RoAne’s kickoff keynote at the 2015 AIM Conference.

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