I find normal conversations pretty boring, its just that its the same getting-to-know-you fluff. I want to get straight to saying and talking about what’s interesting, however, this leads to breaking rapport and sometimes people will think you’re weird.
So an easy way to keep the conversation congruent and I don’t know why I never realized this, is to tell the person you’re conversing with of any anticipated breaks in rapport. Basically, tell them ahead of time if you’re going to act a little different from the norm.
Say you’re at a networking event. The question you answer most is “What do you do?”. Say your ideal answer is something elaborate like:
I help tech excutives that are focused on company growth fine tune their project management, and work with their UX/UI team to make their product more scalable.
If you said this, it would sound scripted. So instead of cutting this short, all you have to do is tell them beforehand that you’ll tell them your spiel.
Them: What do you do?
You: Okay, let me give you the whole spiel. I help...
I went to get lunch with Sebastian Marshall and a couple of his friends. I walked to the table and sat down and after brief greetings, Sebastian asked, “What do you want to talk about today? What problems do you want to tackle today?"
I replied, “Oh I wanted to see what you’re working on and chat bout some concepts from Gateless (his new book)”. This is a pretty typical conversational answer.
Sebastian replied, “Yeah we can…but that’s kinda boring, I’ve talked about Gateless a lot. We have a really smart group here and I want to spend time working on each other’s problems. Personally, I’m trying to figure out the most optimal way of choosing projects”.
What Sebastian did is setup the tone for the rest of the lunch at the very start. If he didn’t say this at the beginning and in the middle of the lunch try to move the conversation toward that topic, it might have taken too much inertia to change.
One more example:
When you meet someone and you think there’s potential business opportunities, you want to task them questions to identify their goals and understand their issues (this is basic sales).
The awkward way of doing this (and I’ve done this a lot before) is to jump straight into problem identification questions.
Them: So it was because of that event that showed me how important partnerships are and that’s how I started this collective.
Me: Oh cool, so what do you do for marketing?
You: Why do you think your content marketing didn’t work?
You: Have you considered making instructional videos? What’s your conversion numbers?
Them: *thinks I’m probably trying to sell him something*
At this point they’re probably thinking, why is this guy asking me all these questions?
The congruent way if you want transition from a get-to-know-you convo to starting a sales dialogue is to tell them beforehand. And no, I don’t me directly saying “Hey, I want to start a sales convo with you”, but instead, “Hey, do you mind if I ask you a few questions (about your marketing) to see if I can help?"
Setup statements really help smooth out your conversations and helps you stay interested without looking weird. So try them out in all your conversations. Things like “hey, I’m into philosophy, so I tend to ask people deeper questions about life” works well. And my personal favorite, “I’m a big fan of Kanye West…so I might mention him a lot”.
Gary Vaynerchuk has a really inspiring video where he was speaking to a group of USC students about entrepreneurship. One of the key points he made was to focus on your strengths and don’t give a crap about your weaknesses. That’s a hopeful mindset to have but one of the reasons why I’ve never completely focused on my strengths is because at my current level, my inadequacies take away most of the gains that I get from my strengths.
For example, I’m really good at opening loops and starting connections. A while back I had a weakness of being being disorganized and showing up late to meetings. This generated very little value since people only give you one chance to show up prepared and on time to a meeting.
A good way to think about this is through thresholds and Sebastian Marshall talks about this thoroughly in his book Roguelike. The basic premise is that if you were in the middle of a desert with no food and you don’t have the competency to get food, then you’re gonna die. As you get better at getting food, you can find food with great nutrients, and the ability to acquire food goes from very important to not very important very quickly.
Sebastian’s book Roguelike is about the parallels of building a successful character in a video game and building success in life, and he explains this concept with a related example:
A few notes --
1. Kai and I co-authored a book a while back. It’s basically done. I still keep wanting to do tweaks and edits, but I’ve got to send this baby off into the world. We’ve had some great early reviewers of which I’m grateful. Now, if you'd like to be involved, here's a good opportunity --
We’d like to have 15 small samples of the book get sent to people when they sign up via email.
I’ve been trying to do this, but I’m too close to the work — I can’t tell which samples/excerpts would be most interesting and relevant to people, in the right order.
So, if you’re interested, you get an advance copy, you read it, you get any questions answered you want, you pick out 15 sections that you think are relevant, you format them into Mailchimp. Pay is $100 for it.