Overcoming Your Plateau in One Happy Hour Conversation

Business.com / Starting a Business / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Engaging in conversation with people outside your sphere of influence will give you a new perspective that could grow your business.

The best businesses keep it simple by partnering an obvious problem with a unique solution.

Has your company hit a plateau? Maybe sales are stagnant, brand loyalty is at an all time low, and your internal efforts lack inspiration. I might be pushing the envelope a bit, but have you ever considered searching for inspiration at the nearest happy hour?

In a relaxed and casual atmosphere, people tend to drop communication barriers, and in most cases, aren’t afraid to speak their mind. Now, this technique isn’t for the insecure or shy, but then again—if you’re an entrepreneur, you probably have a taste for bold behavior.

With that said, when you’re suffering from a lack of internal and external growth, head out to your local craft brewery and strike up a conversation with a stranger. Follow these four guidelines, and I guarantee you’ll leave feeling inspired.

Related Article: It's Who You Know: Effective Networking Tips for Small Business Owners

“So, What Do You Do?”

Ah, the question that every single startup founder waits for. It’s almost like your moment to shine, right? While your friends drone on and on about their dead end job, you can brag about changing the world. Sure, go ahead—paint a dreamy picture of your innovative progress.

Maybe your business is still in the early stages of development, and you haven’t really talked about it out loud. Now, try to explain your business and core motives to a complete stranger who’s had a few too many.

I’ve been involved with a few unique businesses in the past, and even founded one myself. When discussing business with my core group of friends or coworkers, the conversation was a breeze. But, when I had to explain my work to a distant family member or newfound happy hour friend, I saw how disconnected I was with the general public.

On top of that, I realized that I always just assumed everyone knew what I did, but in all reality, most people were quite clueless.

Quick Takeaway: These one-on-one conversations help you recognize that gap, and figure out how to explain your business in a way that’s simple, but still strikes a chord. This same theory can then be translated over to future marketing campaigns.

Don’t Be Self Centered

After discussing what you do, don’t be afraid to pull up a chair and lend a listening ear. Ask your newfound friend about their work life. It’s safe to say the majority of people you meet will want to air out their dirty laundry.

How does this help you?

It gives you insight on what not to do. Tons of companies fail, not because of their external performance, but instead, their internal efforts. A 2015 survey of employees nationwide suggests that respect is the most important factor to their job satisfaction. This speaks volumes for our nation’s current priorities. It’s not all about money, money, money.

People want to be appreciated and respected for what they bring to the table. Business owners can lose qualified and motivated candidates over a simple misunderstanding, so don’t be that person.

Quick Takeaway: If you understand workplace priorities, you know how to better serve your employees. This in turn lends to better company performance and long term growth.

“What Are You Passionate About?”

A couple drinks in, this question is sure to come up. If it doesn’t, don’t be afraid to ask.

Here’s the deal: the best entrepreneurs are in touch with the masses. They understand people, and what they want. They aren’t focused on the self, but instead, the world around them.

They appreciate the idiosyncrasies of each individual and draw inspiration from these differences. Founders who fail to do some occasional people watching become incredibly disconnected. Once this happens, you’re on a slippery slope to Nowhere Land, and it’s not easy to recover.

In addition, don’t be afraid to digest an outsider’s opinion. Will it always be qualified? Absolutely not, especially, if this person has thrown back one too many. But, it’s still an opinion nonetheless.

Quick Takeaway: An average business person filters constructive feedback into two categories: right and wrong. An extraordinary business person understands an opinion can never be right or wrong, just different. They gather hundreds of different opinions, and then use the majority consensus to make an informed decision.

Close The Conversation With an Invitation to Connect

Guess what? You’ve now made an actual face to face connection before even developing an online relationship. In this day and age, that’s quite rare, so be proud. As long as an invitation to connect won’t be deemed offensive, friend them on Facebook, or even invite them to like your business page. Send them an invite on LinkedIn.

Don’t ever worry about coming off as creepy or weird. Bottom line, people like to feel special. Most people, when given the opportunity to connect, will be happy to oblige, and even flattered.

Quick Takeaway:  Connecting with your face to face cohorts online grows your digital sphere of influence, which holds multiple long term benefits.

Related Article: Get 4x More Referrals from Your Customers, Automatically

Bottom Line

Now, to sum it all up, am I telling you to go get drunk with a bunch of strangers in hopes of growing your business? No. I’m just encouraging you to put yourself out there and open yourself up to the opinions of a stranger. This gives you a better understanding of the gaps in your current strategy, builds brand awareness and grows your sphere of influence.

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