4 Observations on Talking to People

Connecting with People

Talking to people is something that seasoned marketers take for granted. At least the successful ones.

But you might not be so sure. If you’ve worked in a traditional job for years, you’ve probably gotten used to talking to the same people every… single… day. When you strike out on your own, though, it’s network or perish.

“But I don’t want to talk to people!” you might be thinking. “I just want to do [web design/accounting/whatever your business is]!”

Sorry, Charlie. Unless you have the great fortune of being “discovered” early on by evangelists who are so enthusiastic about what you do that they run out and spread the word like wildfire… well, you’re going to have to get out there and create connections yourself.

The good news is… you can do it. At least if you’re willing to dispense with the “I’m not good at talking to people” nonsense. No one is born a great conversationalist. That person you know who “can just talk to anybody” – she likely spent years honing her conversation skills.

Look, I get where you’re coming from. I spent years tucked behind a laptop, taking whatever gigs I could get because I decided that I wasn’t good at talking to people. Or, more truthfully, that I wasn’t good enough to engage others in conversation.

A few observations that have unchained me from the fear of networking (and they just might help you and your business, too)…

1) A friendly attitude is all it takes to open the door. If you’re not feeling friendly when you walk out the door, do whatever it takes to put yourself in an approachable state of mind. Meditate. Queue up bubblegum 80s rock on your iPod. If all else fails, smile and the rest will follow.

2) Focusing on the other person makes sustaining a conversation much simpler. Even if you ultimately hope to spread the word about your business, you’ll find it much easier to engage others if you keep the conversation on the person you’re talking to. This isn’t being manipulative, kids. It’s called building quality relationships. And a relationship is much more likely to earn you a sale (or a referral) than a pitch.

3) Remember that receptiveness is closely linked to appearance. If you’re headed to the store in sweatpants and a rumpled t-shirt, you’re not terribly likely to make a meaningful connection. Maintaining an appearance that creates what you want to convey, on the other hand, commands respect and attention… even if you’re secretly terrified. (And is it really so hard to throw on a button-down or a nice blouse before you leave the house?)

4) The worst that will probably happen is that you’ll be rejected. Unless you’re trying to strike up a conversation with a silverback gorilla, you’re probably in no danger of bodily harm. The effects of anything short of a sound beating are up to you. Yes, you’re going to encounter people who aren’t interested in connecting with you. They might be having a bad day, worried about a relative in the hospital, or thinking about the thousand things they need to get done today. Or (and this is rarer that you might imagine), maybe they’re just generally unpleasant people. If that’s the case, it’s not your problem. At least, not if you don’t make it your problem.

It’s the “potential for rejection” part that gets most people. But whether a person rejects your attempt to connect because his mind is elsewhere or because of a persistently bad attitude, you get to decide whether you own that rejection. No one is making you own it.

One way to put it into perspective is this: There are roughly 7 billion human beings occupying this planet right now. One of them has roundly snubbed you. So what? When you’re making connections and raising awareness about your business, you don’t need every single person to care about connecting with you.

Make it a point to get out and connect with five people tomorrow. And the day after that. And…

Not all of them will help your business. Maybe none will. But developing the ability to simply talk to people allows you to plant seeds, and you can rest assured that some of those seeds will eventually grow.


Categories : Marketing Strategy

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