New! BD Essentials: Turn your team into federal intel-gathering experts







Connection Through Conversation

For some, networking events are a paradise filled with opportunities and eager connections. For others, they’re a nerve-wracking maze of awkward silence and intimidating strangers.

But, whether you’re a social butterfly or a wallflower at heart, engagement success is within reach. This article will unveil a simple yet potent technique that can transform stilted small talk into winning relationships: the Hi-Q QLP Technique.

Imagine this. You feel out of place at a networking event but then remember QLP. You see a potential customer with an Air Force lanyard, so you approach them with a warm smile, introduce yourself, and ask them a question. You listen to their response, giving them space to share, and then ask a follow-up question. In no time, you are having an enjoyable dialogue and feel a connection blooming. Before you know it, they invite you to visit their facility.

Introducing the Hi-Q QLP Technique

That’s the power of QLP. QLP stands for “Question, Listen, Pause, then Question again.” It’s a dynamic conversational technique that harnesses emotional intelligence to make the other person the center of attention. By ditching self-promotion and overused questions and focusing on them, you can transform yourself from a wallflower or an over-talker into a captivating conversationalist who leaves a lasting impression.

The Transformative Power of QLP:

  • Build Connection and Trust: People are drawn to those they like and trust.  Listening to understand and demonstrating empathy creates a space for trust and connection to bloom.
  • Gain Insights: Ask insightful questions to uncover valuable information about their experiences, perspectives, and potential business opportunities. This knowledge can strengthen relationships and partnerships.
  • Deepen Trust and Intimacy: Listening promotes openness and connection— both crucial for long-term relationships. People will lean in and open up when you show interest in them, making the engagement far more enjoyable and valuable.
  • Be a More Engaging Conversationalist: By focusing on the other person and asking good questions, you ensure the conversation is stimulating and enjoyable for both parties.

Putting QLP into Practice:

With practice, you will become more comfortable and confident in using QLP. But before you rush off to your next event, let’s delve a little deeper into the specifics of this technique.

Question: Make an excellent first impression and ask a “softball” to get things rolling

First impressions matter! Make yours memorable with a warm smile and confident greeting. Provide your name and affiliation, even if you assume they know it, but keep it casual. You want to start the conversation in a way that gets them talking and helps you gauge their willingness to chat. So avoid asking a closed-ended question and use a broad, non-threatening question that invites elaboration and deeper insights.

Most people enjoy talking about themselves and their work but avoid the tired “What do you do?” opener. Make sure you tailor your questions to the person you’re talking to. Think about their professional background, current role, or cultural context. Try to add a personal touch by mentioning something you noticed about them or their interests.

Tip: If you feel it might not be a good time, ask them tactfully, “Can I ask you a question?”

Example: Instead of a simple “Hi,” try, “Hi, I’m Alex from ABE Solutions. “I noticed you have an Air Force lanyard. What’s your connection to the Air Force?”

Listen: First, Seek to Understand 

Conversations thrive when you focus on understanding others before seeking to be understood. Giving your undivided attention and listening to understand positively reflects your intention. This goes beyond just words and engages eye contact. Your approach must be genuine, as must the effort you applied to listen and grasp their perspective and priorities.

When they feel listened to, it unlocks deeper rapport, and richer dialogue ensues. You transform casual exchanges into meaningful connections by listening intently to understand rather than listening to respond.

Tip: Focus on them, not you. Be fully present! When others are talking, most people think about how to reply and what to ask; their mind wanders, or they zone out! Stop this! Learn to focus intently on their words, tone, and body language. Allow them to express themselves fully and tune into what animates them or where they use emotional words.

The Power of Pausing:

Don’t underestimate the power of the pause! After asking a question, give the other person ample time to respond. Once they stop, resist the urge to fill the silence immediately. Not pausing allows you to be seen as impatient, disinterested, or even desperate! By interrupting, you could miss out on keen insights, stop their flow, or even frustrate them into wanting to leave the conversation!

Pausing fosters deeper conversation, conveys that you value their input, creates space for reflection, and allows you time to respond with a thoughtful follow-up question based on what you heard rather than just reacting. By doing this, you naturally slow down your thought process, allowing the urge to finish their sentences or immediately respond to dissipate.

Tip:  Resist your urge to fill the silences. Pausing is not as easy as it sounds. Make it a conscious decision. Commit to briefly pausing after the other person stops talking.

Deepen Connection with Empathy and Follow-Up Questions

After someone shares a perspective, use empathy to acknowledge their feelings. Use empathetic statements like “That sounds challenging” or “That’s an impressive achievement” to show you understand their perspective. This displays understanding and encourages them to keep talking.

Then, delve deeper by asking short, open-ended questions, encouraging them to elaborate and reveal more. This demonstrates your genuine interest and fosters a more meaningful and insightful conversation.

When following up, resist the urge to start a new line of questioning – instead, foster a natural flow of conversation by using their words as springboards to uncover more information by asking “how,” “why,” or “what” questions.

Tips:  Paraphrase their words to communicate that you listened, and be prepared to ask 3-5 follow-up questions to fully understand their perspective.

Example: “Thank you for your service – What drew you to the Air Force originally?” or “I’m sorry to hear that. How much longer will she be deployed?”

Eager to unleash QLP’s magic? But what about that pesky approach anxiety?

QLP sounds fantastic to engage somebody once I’m introduced to them, but what about the nervousness about initiating conversation? Fear not, social butterflies and wallflowers alike, because the Hi-Q QLP Technique can help transform social anxiety into a manageable flutter.

Next time you are at an event, paralyzed by the thought of initiating conversation? Just remember, a simple “Hi” followed by a question can be your magic entre to hours of engagement! Step out of your comfort zone and embrace the initial awkwardness as a chance to enter the world of your conversation partner. A mentor once told me: “It’s amazing what you can learn from others if you only ask.” So, take a deep breath, pluck up your courage, and watch your self-imposed social barriers crumble.

Key Reminders – The Mechanics of Effective Conversations:

As you launch into your next social or business engagement, remember the following:

  • Be genuinely interested in them and their experiences.
  • Use short, open-ended questions to spark deeper conversation.
  • Ask one question at a time, not a string of them, and avoid lengthy lead-in statements.
  • Listen attentively to both spoken words, body language, and tone.
  • Pause, reflect, and then respond thoughtfully. Internalize what they are sharing.
  • Empathy builds trust. It allows them to feel heard and validated.
  • Follow-up questions deepen the conversation and show you’re engaged and interested.


Implementing the QLP technique takes courage and practice, but the rewards are substantial. You’ll transform your social and networking experiences from stressful silences to engaging and enjoyable interactions. The key to success lies in being authentic and genuinely interested, not just trying to look interesting to others. So, confidently step into your next event, knowing you can turn fleeting interactions into lasting relationships and valuable business connections – these are winning relationships!



Meet the new course for GovCon.

Stop missing opportunities  •  Get your team on the same page



The LinkedIn Lift
Get the most insightful posts from LinkedIn™ in this monthly roundup.



Join hundreds of teams creating Winning Relationships™ now.

get started


Top 3 Mistakes


26 Best Practices