Recently I had a conversation with a stranger.
As we sat next to one another while we traveled, we had ample opportunity to chat and quickly moved through the small talk you’d expect – things like weather, the experience we were sharing, where we were headed, and the like. Then we ran out of common ground, long before we arrived.
We were in different places in life regarding age, family, and heritage. Our skills and professions were different as well. We each carried assumptions with us about our world and what it means to be a woman in 2017. It’s very likely that our political viewpoints were as varied as our views on spirituality and relationships and even the ways we express our innate creativity.
But we didn’t talk about any of that stuff, and it’s a shame.
Why? Because we still don’t know one another.
Sure, she can describe me in terms of how I look, how old I am, and what I do. The superficial demographics we shared as we passed the time are enough for all that. But there’s nothing more. No real connection or friendship or lasting bond. But hey, at least we were polite, right?
The problem is that polite and superficial doesn’t build a relationship, in your personal life or in business.
(I know, how un-Canadian of me!)
If the story you tell about your business to the people on your list is only full of general information and acceptable language, it won’t build much in terms of relationship either.
In our desire to avoid offense we can water down our opinions so much that they don’t actually engage anyone either. But if you want to build relationships with the people in your community, you have to move beyond safe, polite conversation. You have to shake things up and spark real dialogue.
I’m guessing you have some pretty strong opinions. And like most people, some you share in public while others are private. Your strongest held opinions are probably known only to those people who are close to you.
As you’ve gained experience in your niche, I know you’ve gathered some strong opinions along the way. That wisdom and perspective are what we call expertise, and it’s good stuff.
But when was the last time you shared those strong opinions? Do you hesitate to share your wisdom because it isn’t commonplace? It might not be well accepted or similar to what you see online. That’s a good thing because your best ideas are unique – and they shake things up a bit.
Sharing your insight could challenge your audience to think deeply about things like their:
- Conversations about everything from sales to problem-solving to customer service.
- Expectations about business based on “the way things are done around here.”
- Assumptions about the issues they address, problems they solve, and their world view.
Shaking things up feels a little scary, but it’s SO good for your business. Why? Because people remember what they feel deeply, and the people or brands that sparked those feelings. Those are the moments that relationships are built in.
Advertising is all about feeling. That’s why we remember the television commercials that make us laugh. And the ones that put tears in the corners of our eyes. And the ones that gave us a reason to stop and think until suddenly we saw the world a tiny bit differently.
Emotion is the difference between polite, forgettable marketing and making a deep, lasting connection.
In business, many of us try to stay safe. We hide our most controversial – and memorable – opinions in order to attract as many potential clients and customers as possible.
We take the bite out of our wisdom to make it more palatable.
We shy away from bold statements and deep conversations because we believe they are less effective than a good, solid, (and general) message.
But we couldn’t be more wrong.
Deep conversations create meaningful connections between people and brands. It also makes you stand out from the crowd, which makes it easier for your best customers to find you.
So when you go to write your next blog post or email- don’t hold back. Shake things up and connect!