Think back… over the years, you’ve probably had millions, if not billions, of conversations. Stop for a moment and realize that some of your most mundane conversations have turned into your most valuable and treasured relationships. Startling, right?
For example, I’ve now spent over twenty years with a woman who once asked me for directions.
And speaking of directions, we often have no idea where a social conversation is going at the outset. I’m here to remind you to be open to the possibilities. (I love you, babe!)
This can be a challenge because in our professional lives, most of our conversations have a clearly defined purpose. In a business conversation, we have a goal. We need to book an appointment, gain agreement on an issue, or make the sale. When a conversation veers off course, we push it back towards our goals.
However, social conversations are largely free from these objectives and by paying attention to what works socially, we can improve our conversation marketing. For example, when attending a cook-out, party or other social event, half the fun comes from engaging with other people. We dive into the banter and repartee of a great exchange solely for the joy of connecting with another human being.
Think about the last time you went to spend time with a group of friends. What was your attitude? What were your expectations? What was your approach?
If you were looking forward to the event, you were likely to be open and positive. I challenge you now to remember those feelings. Connect with them. Hold on to them and then carry them into your next business conversation.
It may take a few tries, but once you get it the difference will be immediately obvious. You’ll be more relaxed, more fun – the better version of your business self – and this will put everyone at ease. Never forget that people buy from those they know, like and trust. Conversation marketing is the fastest way to become known, liked and trusted.
In my role at Happy Grasshopper, I’ve helped thousands of salespeople start millions of friendly conversations. But starting the conversation isn’t enough. You have to keep it going.
So let’s be good at this. Here are my ground rules:
- Ask questions. There’s no better way to start a conversation. “Have you lived here long?” “Did you hear about (blank)?” “I love your (blank), where did you get it?” are some of my favorites. They are guaranteed to get a reply, but then you need to keep the conversation going. How?
- Be interested first. Great conversation is a dance. It’s give and take, and wit, and repartee… but listening is critical. Instead of waiting for them to stop yapping so you can pivot to your story, try asking follow up questions instead. Like this- “Interesting. I’ve wondered about that, what is it you like most about (blank)?”
- Ask for opinions. This stops questions from feeling like an inquisition and it invites fresh thinking. The question “What’s your opinion?” and statement “In my opinion” both leave room for discussion. It communicates that you’re interested in what they think – and that’s so much more important than how tall, short, fat, rich or pretty we are. When we ask someone what they think, they immediately give us a free upgrade in their good peeps ranking.
- Make friends. If this is your goal you will almost never fail. Meet strangers with an open and accepting heart, and you’ll suddenly find new friends everywhere you go.