When you meet someone new, you have a conversation. Maybe starting with, “Hi, I’m Nick. Good to meet you.”
These first conversations take place at work, at a coffee shop, at your local gym, at a friend’s backyard BBQ. And so on.
However trivial their content, conversations lay the foundations for our relationships.
What we say to people creates a first impression. Good or bad.
Our accent, our vocabulary, the topics we choose to talk about… these all add layers. They let the other person know what we have in common, and what we don’t. We find out whether we’re members of the same “tribe”.
Some of these first conversations lead to love, or to new friendships, or profitable business relationships.
We can also learn about people by listening to the conversations they have with someone else.
Imagine you’re at a convention and are in the hotel bar at the end of the day. You walk up to two other people who are in conversation, neither of whom you know. And before even introducing yourself, you listen to what they’re saying.
It’s not your conversation. You’re not taking part. But you can still pick up a lot about those two people. And maybe after a minute or two, you’ll join in.
Conversation helps us get a feel for people. Taking that first step towards getting to know them.
This can be a conversation you’re having, or a conversation you’re listening to.
Use conversation to help your prospective customers get to know you.
If you have a busines, you probably don’t have the opportunity to talk with every prospective customer face to face.
But you can invite them to listen to you in conversation with other people.
Recently I’ve been doing a lot of research into a new pet project of mine.
Part of that task has been identifying the true experts in the field, and then deciding which of them I respect and trust the most.
I find it really hard to draw those kinds of conclusions from what they write on their websites. People’s true voices are often masked behind a wall of marketing writing.
Which is why I like to watch and listen to experts on YouTube and on podcasts.
I want to listen to them, to their conversations.
I want to pick up all those clues we depend on when getting to know someone.
Now bridge the gap between your conversational self and your business self.
On rare and refreshing occasions I first listen to an expert on a podcast, then go to their website… which is usually selling something… and find the same voice being used.
What a relief to find their websites and emails being written in conversational language.
Not only is it conversational in style, but it also matches the voice I heard on those videos or podcasts.
In other words, their business voice is both conversational and true.
This seems to come more naturally to younger business people.
Most of the time, when I find this kind of connection between a business person’s conversational voice and their business voice, that person is under 40. More or less.
I may be wrong, but my guess is that this is because younger business people are native to the web. They are native to social media. And it comes naturally to them to use their own, conversational voice on their websites.
Meanwhile, us older folks continue to struggle. We still think that business writing should be something that’s more carefully structured, and formal.
Which is a pity, because to be conversational and true is a powerful combination when you’re writing online.
And… which pet project inspired all this?
My current obsession, which has inspired my recent search for true experts, is mushrooms and fungi.
My new website on the topic is called Incredible Mushrooms.
One of my favorites “conversational” podcasts on the subject is Mushroom Revival.
One of my favorite “conversational” YouTube channels is FreshCap Mushrooms.
Enjoy. And may the fungi be with you!