Are conversations more like cooking or are they like baking?
I don't know about you. I'm a terrible cook. I can make a half decent egg white omelet and a salad. I know, I am as shocked as you are, being Italian and all that. When it comes to baking though, I am a master chef.
Biscotti, cookies, pies, cakes, tarts, mousse and more – I can make it. A while back, before I started writing, I used to bake 17 different kinds of cookies for Christmas to give away as gifts nicely wrapped in generous-variety tins and creative decorations. Yes, people were nice to me then…
Baking, they tell me, requires a slightly different kind of skill than cooking. You need to measure and mix precise ingredient quantities, set the oven (or pot for spoon desserts) at a certain temperature, and cook for a specific time. While substitutions and adaptations are possible, results may vary.
With cooking you get away with improvising on ingredients, making substitutions or additions in spices and condiments, select different temperatures, etc.
I've always compared content to food — they are both and excuse to be social. And while having a content strategy is good, if you're looking to attract and connect online, you need to be prepared with a conversation strategy as well.
What are the 8 key ingredients of a conversation strategy?
1. Start with a clean counter
Even the best chef is useless without a proper workspace. In terms of conversation, your granite-topped counter is platform. Is the venue right for the conversation?
2. Read the whole recipe before you start
What are your goals? How will you know when the conversation is "cooked"? Do you have all the ingredients – the resources to be engaging?
3. Master the skills
You can't make a souffle if don't know how to beat an egg. In your case, this means know your product or service inside out.
4. Stir well
Fold, blend, stir – don't just let your dish sit there! In conversation, you've got to be an able mixer. Keep things fresh. Keep things moving. It's the combination of things which turn something mundane into something magnificent.
5. Taste, taste, taste
A chef who fails to taste the food is no chef at all. Taste constantly. In conversation, tasting is listening. Be prepared to make comments designed to let the other party know you are actually listening to them and responding to what they tell you.
6. Don't over- or undercook
The difference between a kitchen dabbler and a professional chef is timing. The same is true of conversations.
7. Watch the pot boil
How else would you know if it's boiling over? In conversation, listen to the other party and pay attention for disconnects. The faster you catch them, the more likely you are to turn the heat down in time.
8. Use only quality ingredients
Don't expect to serve a great dish without great ingredients. In conversation, be ready with extraordinary content. Your choice of content should also be appropriate to the venue.
You see how whether it is baking or cooking is not the right question. Make sure the ingredients are fresh and appropriate for your recipe, and be prepared to change your content mix based upon who's coming for dinner.
[image wikimedia commons]