There you are at a party, and you notice someone you’d like to get to know. So, you start staring at them. And staring. And staring. You’re hoping that your googly-eyed stare is communicating your interest in them.
No surprise what happens next. He or she gets up, crosses the room, and whispers to the host, “That weirdo in the corner keeps staring at me… I’m worried… is he a stalker?”
How do I know? That was me, as a teenager. Except I didn’t even have enough courage to stare. I just wilted like a wallflower… .
Ever feel that way with potential clients?
You see all these people you could help, but they either completely ignore you, or, when they do notice, they move further away… nervously.
Strange, huh? Those same people, if they knew you, would love you the way your past clients do. What’s going on?
To start a conversation, you need a topic.
If you’re at a party, you know you just don’t stare at someone, you start with a topic, and hopefully one they’re interested in. “So, how do you know the host?” is a topic that can work, even if it’s luke-warm.
An even more effective strategy is to be in an animated conversation on a topic you have some passion for, and, with any luck, the person you want to talk to will want to join in the conversation, if he or she likes the topic, too.
Before you know it, you’re chatting away.
To create intimacy and trust with new people, you need a topic.
A lot of marketers may make you nervous talking about ‘niche’ or ‘target market.’ You don’t want to make your business smaller, and you certainly don’t want to shoot anyone.
But, how about a topic for your business? You start a passionate conversation on a topic, and pretty soon, people will be crowding around you and your business.
Do I have to talk about just one thing?
No, you don’t. Yes, you do. Actually, it’s both yes and no.
You want to be specific enough so you can build momentum. If you change the topic too much, all the people who were becoming interested in your business will drift away.
At the same time, you can pick a topic that is roomy enough to turn around inside it. Take for instance the topic of healing from chronic illness.
That’s a pretty concrete topic. And yet, you can talk about it from many different angles- you can talk about nutrition. You can talk about family and community support. You can talk about handling the annoying offers of miracle cures from people when they find out you’re sick.
There’s a lot of shared experiences in that topic to keep people interested, and to keep you from getting too bored.
If you want your business to go into momentum, and have a crowd of interested people around it, stop staring, and start talking about a topic. What topic? How do you pick a topic when you can help so many different kinds of people with what you do?
Keys to Being the Life of the Party
Be humble and be in the party.
Ever been at a party where someone tries to maintain the full attention of everyone in the room? No matter how entertaining they are (if they are) it gets boring after awhile. Parties are liveliest when small groups are clumped together talking about different things.
Accept that other people are okay if they are in other conversations. You don’t need to, and can’t, help everyone in the world. Be humble and accept that.
After humility, now step into your strength.
What aspect of the world do you want to see brighter, more cheerful, more healed?
For instance I love playing in small business. Others like helping people with chronic illness. Or maybe it’s working mothers. Or people struggling in intimate relationships. Or managers beat up in office politics. Or… or…
The trick is that it needs to be a corner of the physical world. Something as vague as ‘people in transition’ is not concrete enough to be an engaging conversation topic. But, people in career transitions. Or transitioning into “empty-nest syndrome” or transitioning into retirement- that’s a concrete topic.
What corner of the world do you want to bring your gifts to?
The topic is just a door-opener.
When your business has a topic, it means that strangers at the party won’t think you’re a weirdo. But, once you get to know someone, they become a client, who knows what you’ll be discussing?
Despite my topic being small business, I’ve touched on relationship healing, physical illness, organizational effectiveness- whatever my clients were needing, and I felt competent to work with. But, only after they got to know me.
It’s just for your business.
Your topic is just for your business. Your whole life doesn’t have to be about that topic.
Go volunteer in other areas! Connect with people around your other passions. Let your life be the multi-dimensional wondrous thing that it is.
When you pick a topic for your business, and stick to it, it means that your business can stop feeling like the pariah of the party. People will stop ignoring you or edging nervously away.
Instead, you’ll find yourself in the center of the crowd, as more and more people gather around, wanting to engage with your topic.