What do you picture when you think of a great conversationalist?
You might imagine a popular person at a dinner party engaging delighted guests in fast flowing conversation. But there’s a lot more scope to it than that. Great conversation is not just important for brunches and soirees, it’s also essential for successful business growth, especially for freelancers.
Strong conversational skills are vital when it comes to growing a freelancing career. A healthy conversation imparts vital information and makes you more likeable, appear more skillful, and cultivates more long-term professional relationships.
A conversation which flows and brings you closer to other people also boosts your mood and wellbeing, which positively impacts your work.
What makes a great conversationalist?
Every great conversationalist who is adept at starting, maintaining, and influencing the direction of a conversation, has most or all of the following skills.
They know to:
- Balance out a conversation by asking questions and making sure the other party is actively involved.
- Ask the right type of questions appropriate to the conversation and which can elicit even more interesting insights and information.
- Listen carefully to the other person in the conversation so as to appear warm and enthusiastic as well as to respond appropriately.
- Be genuinely interested in the other person and sincerely seek to know more about their life, motivations, and opinions.
- Remain positive by focusing on inspiring topics, happy subject matters, and forward-thinking goals, where possible.
- Respect the other person and refrain from judging or criticizing, thereby putting the other party at ease and encouraging further dialogue.
- Embrace humility by avoiding a dominating attitude and also letting the other person shine.
- Rely on intuition and tap into what is usually a high emotional intelligence to sense the feelings and mindset of those they talk to.
- Simply be themselves and speak like they do with anyone else, without masks or false pretenses.
Many of these skills are inherent to good people while others can be cultivated and improved on over time.
The importance of being a conversationalist as a freelancer
For freelance professionals, cultivating strong conversational skills is important for many of the aforementioned reasons. Yet there are certain circumstances and stages of a freelancer-client relationship where being a great conversationalist is particularly powerful.
Here are seven key areas where mastering the art of conversation can really propel you above your competitors:
Marketing is essentially about relationships. And the core feature of strong and healthy relationships is conversation. As a freelancer, much of your marketing revolves around content, perhaps in the form of blogging, social media, adverts, web pages, and video.
The essential skills of a great conversationalist apply directly to great marketing content. It’s purposeful, genuine, personable, positive, and focused a lot on the other person – the prospect. Blogging especially can be a great forum in which to share information in a conversational style.
Part of strong marketing for freelancers is networking. Whether offline or online, successful networking employs the qualities of natural conversationalists.
Many networking events can often descend into business card swapping sales pitches. Yet those who benefit from these events most are the people who truly focus on the other person, ask questions, and actively seek to cultivate new collaborative relationships. In essence, what makes a mutually enjoyable conversation.
The same applies online, where two-way conversations can be cultivated over time, leading to an increased likelihood of gaining new ideal clients.
- Client phone calls
Phone calls are a necessary part of freelancing, even if not everyone’s favorite activity. For many people, the phone can be a source of anxiety yet it’s key to building trust, moving things forward, and sharing information.
Being a good conversationalist helps you to relax and reassure your prospects who might be worried about spending a lot of money. An assured, relaxed, and clear style of talking, with some personality included, can sway wavering prospects into becoming excited clients.
- Project proposals
Proposals are just proposals, surely? What’s conversational about them?
Project proposals are actually a continuation of a prior conversation and an important step in the client relationship process. They repeat what has previously been discussed and set out a proposed plan of action together with potential prices. Strong proposals are persuasive, especially for high-priced services, retainer agreements, and service packages.
Like with a great conversationalist, the proposal is respectful, helpful, clear, and non-argumentative. It focuses on positive outcomes and puts the prospect in the best light.
- Contract and fee negotiations
Another stressful step for many freelance professionals are contract and fee negotiations. Individuals and businesses will often try and negotiate a more favorable price. This is just human nature. But it’s important to know your worth, set red lines, and ensure fees and contracts work in everyone’s favor. This is a surefire way to ease general money anxiety.
Skilled conversationalists know how to avoid being dominated by other people and use strategies to navigate difficult conversions. They remain calm and respectful, but gently authoritative while using small silences to their advantage.
- Invoicing procedures
There might not seem a lot of need for conversational skills when it comes to invoicing.
But when you consider the invoicing process is yet another part of your personal brand, then the importance of continuity becomes obvious. Your invoices and invoicing procedures are a conversation with your clients, which can go a long way to building long-term client confidence.
From the words in the invoice document itself to the phrases you use in deposit requests and late payment reminder emails, each touchpoint with your client needs to be respectful, clear, balanced, and relevant to the particular stage. Otherwise you risk alienating a previously satisfied client.
- Delegation and collaboration partnerships
As well as clients, you’ll also likely work with collaboration and delegation partners. Strong conversational skills are imperative in these scenarios. You need to come across as friendly and respectful but also confident and strong in the sense of holding your own in directing the course of the conversations.
Both oral and written communications regarding a project must be based around asking the right questions, listening/reading carefully, balanced input, and positivity towards a shared goal.
Yes, just like a skilled conversationalist.
Are you a conversationalist freelancer?
Every important event in our lives, from a cherished romance to a new lucrative business agreement begins with a conversation. How you communicate with other people will play a big part in how well your career progresses as a freelancer.
It’s worth studying the essential aspects of good conversation and communication. The results will allow you to play your full part in delivering fantastic project results for your clients and making a lot more money.