by Motivational Speaker and Strategic Storytelling Expert, Kelly Swanson
Closing The Stranger Gap
I had an online meeting scheduled with a business owner in another country where English is not their primary language. In case you have never met me, I am a loud woman from the South who is addicted to hair pieces and inappropriate comments. There are people in my own family who don’t understand me. My audiences in the US consider me over-the-top, and I’m pretty sure the dairy farmers I spoke to in Amish country set up a special day of prayer just for me. You can imagine how I would come across to a business owner in Eastern Europe. I was a bit nervous. We were all on video, which didn’t help my case.
We were meeting to discuss a possible business partnership and I’m not sure who was really doing the selling, if anyone, which made me dread what I assumed would be an awkward conversation. But there was one thing this business owner did that set the tone for a beautiful conversation. And he did it in one sentence. One sentence that turned us from strangers into friends and shortened the distance between us. The very first words out of his mouth were, “I’m sorry I am not wearing a suit, but I have to pick my children up from school after this and take them to the playground.”
In that instance, he went from a stranger to a dad. My brain formed an image of him pushing his children on the swings, tucking them into bed, reading them stories. In that moment he became human and the relationship became personal. By the time we realized we shared a love for vodka, I could picture myself having dinner with his family. And I could picture myself doing business with him.
The One Sentence Connection
No matter what our business, we are all in the business of persuasion, trying to influence someone to buy from us, listen to us, believe in us, or follow our lead. Our ability to successfully influence is based on our ability to connect. Sometimes we only have a moment to create that connection. Too many people miss this golden opportunity. Why? Because we don’t realize that connection is personal.
I connect to someone when I can relate to them as a person. So in order for you to connect with me, I need to know something personal about you. You can reveal it in just a sentence, and even choose something that I could probably relate to. Most of us can relate to having children, owning a pet, taking care of older parents, moving to a new place, feeling frustrated over something, being addicted to a TV show, or being in a relationship. It’s not just the facts about someone that we connect to, but the emotions behind them. When you tell me how it made you feel, then I remember a time I felt that way, and we relate to each other on a personal level. And that is when connection happens.
What Are Your Connection Opportunities?
Take a step back and look at the opportunities you have to connect. Craft those single sentences that allow you to make a connection. Once you do that, you take me on this journey as your friend. People buy from people they like, trust, believe, and feel like they know. No matter what you’re selling, we’re all in the business of persuasion. The more you connect, the more you influence.
By the way, did you know they have orange flavored vodka? Grab a marker and color me excited. Life is good.
Motivational Speaker and Storytelling Expert Kelly Swanson teaches people across all industries how to use strategic storytelling to stand up and stick out in a crowded market.