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Nothing is more important than establishing a meaningful connection with a prospect, when it comes to converting someone to a client. The scientific evidence for how to do that is clear, and it was vividly illustrated at a large social gathering I recently attended.

As an introvert, these are not my favorite events. I usually look for someone I can get to know rather than having a large number of small conversations.

I ended up speaking with a middle-aged woman who explained that she had just come out of an abusive relationship with an alcoholic spouse. She told me about her journey, which culminated with both physical and mental therapy. Her story had a happy ending. She found employment she enjoyed and had a number of new social acquaintances. For the first time in her life, she felt “genuinely happy.”

I spoke to her for about an hour.

The next day she sent me e-mail. She thanked me for speaking with her and told me how much she enjoyed our conversation.

The power to engage

If there’s one epiphany from the research I did for my book and my coaching practice, it’s that we have the power to engage in a meaningful way. This power is based on sound neuroscience, but it requires a conscious effort.

I made that effort with the woman I met at the social event. Instead of talking, I asked her questions. I empowered her to talk about herself. I had no agenda other than learning about her. I wasn’t trying to impress her. I never talked about myself. If she had asked, I would have given a brief response to her question, and then asked her more questions about herself.

The neuroscience of talking about yourself

Here’s what was happening to her brain. When she was talking about herself, there was increased neural activity in areas of her brain associated with motivation and reward. In fact, studies have shown these same areas “have been linked to the pleasurable feelings and motivational states associated with stimuli such as sex, cocaine, and good food,” according to an article reviewing the research and published in Scientific American.