In his book “Six Pixels of Separation” Mitch Joel says
“..the best …way to grow your business is to start a conversation”
Now Mitch Joel is a guru in the social media world and the comment is
made in context of using social media for business but I would argue
that it has always been so. Only maybe slower without the technology.
What do you do when you go into a meeting/event where you are with
Well firstly there are potential customers in every place
where there are people. Of course there will be targetted events where
the people there are already interested in what your business has to
offer and I am sure that many businesses thrive by mainly working those.
But unless you have a conversation with someone you have no idea
whether you will be able to do business together..
And that’s why cold calling does not work for me – I know that the
person on the phone/ at my door wants to sell me something right away
and unless they genuinely engage me in conversation to
find out a bit about me it isn’t going anywhere.
However, let me tell you about at time when I was persuaded..
A young man turned up at my door. He told me that he was doing
gardening work in the area – a common opening line and I was about to
terminate the conversation – but then he went on to chat about how
nice my garden was ( good flattering start I know) . He asked how much
time I spent in the garden. What were my biggest headaches with it? How
would I like it to look… After 10 minutes or so I agreed that he should
quote for some tidy up work which he did as promised – in time and
leaving my garden looking lovely. Then we chatted about the rest of the
garden…and well – you get the picture.
To get back to the event where people are standing round with wine
and canapes. Still I encounter people who go straight into broadcast
mode before any icebreaking chat happens. Does that work for them? I
guess it must or they would not still be doing it..
Without first having conversation you cannot find out if there is a
chance that you might do business. And remember that is just the opener
to building a relationship. There will probably have to be more
conversations – over coffee, by e-mail, on the phone – to develop a
deeper understanding of what might be needed. This will involve asking
questions, remembering details, making connections.
And if that person then leads you to who your real customer might be –
the round of conversations must start again.
It takes time.
The online tools help speed that up a bit now.
But is still takes time.
And as a started for 10 – lots of people tell me that they hate
“networking” because they never know what to say. Well after the
introduction don’t forget the small talk – How did you get here? How do
you know the host? – that sort of thing. If you join a group it is OK
to listen for a bit until you get to a point where you feel you have
something to add.
Just start a conversation!