A major mistake people make is thinking of external conversations as "presentations" only, and do not focus on all of the other possible conversations that occur. It is our view that even presentations should be viewed as conversations.
External audiences vary significantly; for example an external audience can be an audience at a conference, an interview with a reporter or blogger, or a customer you are trying to get interested in your product or service. External conversations are happening all of the time, but they all have one thing in common. All external conversations occur with the goal of having a return on investment (ROI) from those conversations.
The ROI from an external conversation will fall into one of three categories. This is true no matter what kind of external conversation you are having. The key is to be clear on what ROI you want from every conversation, and to be flexible during the conversation to shift your ROI when appropriate. When entering a conversation you must choose which ROI you want.
- Money: For example, money can come from many sources including a client buying a product or service or an investor giving money for your idea. This is the ROI that most people think about, but it is not the only the of ROI that you should desire from conversations.
- Support: Support is getting someone to support what you are attempting to do and help you achieve your global impact goals. Examples of possible support can include a new employee you are looking to hire or a potential partner who can give you the right support through connections. Support often can be more important and powerful than money because often support leads to larger quantities of money over time.
- Positive Reputation: Sometimes what is most important is getting someone to speak well of you and your company. This positive reputation can go a long way to help establish your credibility and increase the "know/ like/trust" factor of your company. Positive reputation can come from journalists, audience members in a conference keynote, or just the person you met at the local coffee shop.You never know the connections of the person you are talking with, so you should always want to leave every conversation with the person thinking positively of you at the very least.
No matter who you are in conversation with, you should always be thinking about and aware of the your desired ROI from that conversation. Not everyone will be a customer, but when they are potential customer or clients think about money ROI. Sometimes the person you are in conversation with may have the right connection for you so be sure to be ready to ask for support ROI when relevant. And it is important to never forget the influence someone you are in conversation with may have, so be sure to leave them with positive reputation ROI.
The key is to be aware, be present and be prepared to ask for the right ROI when the time is right based on the conversation and the way the person you are in conversation with can help.