It’s astounding to me how many opportunities we miss to make communication easier. And by communication, in this case, I’m talkin g about applications ranging from simple hi-how-do-you-do interactions to business deals getting done, or NOT getting done as it relates to communication. I’ve found that lots of times, it’s a problem of omissions and assumptions. Here are some situations, a common way people handle them, and then a way or ways to hack them into better interactions.


Situation: Meeting someone for the second time.
Common Interaction: “Hi, how are you doing?” (pause) “Great!”

What’s missing in the above is that by opening your second ever meeting with someone by saying, “Hi, how are you doing,” you’re not giving the other person context, in case they’ve forgotten your name. It assumes a lot. Further, if they HAVE forgotten your name, you’ve put them in a rough position.

Instead, try this: “Hi, Leon. Chris Brogan. It was great meeting you last week at the Network2 party.”

The response has everything. It shows you remember HIS name, tells who you are, and gives Leon context.


Situation: You’re at a conference, and there’s a Q&A.
Common Interaction: “Could you tell me about the RSS capabilities?”

You’ve submitted the basic question and that’s okay. But here are a few things you can do to improve it. Ask the person speaking BY NAME your question. Second, give your name and affiliation (briefly!), and then ask the question. Remember that there are more people in the room than you at a conference. Part of attending conferences is to build your contact list (did you know that?). Make it easier for others, and they’ll make it easier to connect afterwards.

Instead, try this: “Jenny, Chris Brogan from Network2. Can you tell me about the RSS capabilities?”


Situation: Chatter at a party
Common Interaction: “So, what do you do?”

It’s not a horrible question, but it’s also such an easy one to drop into a dead end. Think about your answer. “I run a liquor store.” Or whatever. It requires YOU to come back with a good probing question, like, “Oh, you must see some interesting characters there.” And that has a second chance to be a dead end. Try for something unique, but not TOO far out there.

Instead, try this: “What’s something you hope to do over the next year?”


The goal is simply to build better handles into both sides of all your communication interactions. If you help people communicate with you, they’ll ease the conversation, and the payoff will be better on all fronts.

So, what are some of YOUR conversation and contact tricks?

Chris Brogan is Community Developer at Network2. There’s a party in New York on the 15th if you want to meet him. Just drop him a line: chris at

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