Conversations have common threads. Whether the conversation is personal or about business, or the conversation is conducted in person, on the phone, or online, the elements of a conversation are essentially the same. But, most business people are still stuck in an old-fashioned way of thinking. Their idea of a social media conversation still reads like a traditional print advertisement. They fail to realize that new rules are emerging for a whole new two-way conversational environment that underlies the nature of this most basic human behavior.
This is particularly true when marketers and sales professionals attempt to engage prospective clients in conversations on social media networks like LinkedIn, Twitter and Google Plus +. Conversation partners expect the new rules to be observed. When they are violated, they become apparent. And, when they become apparent, credibility is lost and conversations can end badly.
At CorporatePA, we have developed a system for aiding clients who are genuinely interested in engaging customer prospects online in meaningful dialogues about relevant business issues. Dialogues that can lead to new relationships, that can result in the acquisition of new customers.
Rules and expectations we have of each other as digital media conversation partners:
- INITIATE. Someone has to start a conversation. For example, questions like: What did you think of what (name of industry leader) had to say about the upcoming changes in the regulatory environment? Or, how is the economy affecting your business? Or, what did you think of the keynote speaker at our industry trade show last week ? These are good conversation starters because the intent is to engage, not to sell, the prospect.
- RESPONSE. The questioner waits for a response from the prospect, or responses from multiple LinkedIn GROUP members. For example: I agreed with the guest speaker on some issues, but not on others, etc.
- TAKE TURNS. The questioner should acknowledge what the other people had to say, and comment on what has been said.
- STAY ON POINT. The questioner shouldn’t change the topic of conversation until he/she thinks that the other people are finished and want to move on.
- ASK FOR PERMISSION. Instead of just forging ahead with a new topic, ask for permission to change the topic, and/or ask your partners to recommend new topics to discuss.
- BE HONEST. Regardless of the subject matter, always say what you believe to be true.
- BE TERSE. Be respectful of others people’s time and attention. Be brief, clear and to the point so that your meaning is understood. You don’t need to say more than you need to say to have your listener(s) understand.
- BE ENGAGED. Be genuinely engaged in what other people have to say.
- DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK: If you don’t understand something, request more information, or clarification, from your conversation partner(s).
- DON’T BE AFRAID TO SHARE: Always offer to provide back-up support and references if your conversation partners ask for clarification.