Selling has its own rightful place in our lives, but it’s not appropriate as the foundation of friendship or social interaction. It doesn’t matter what “your thing” is, but if you talk to your friends and closer acquaintances about “your thing” as though it’s the thing everyone should prioritize, you’re already in the process of losing influence with people without realizing it.
Am I Guilty of This?
Full disclosure: I’m basically selling to you RIGHT NOW. Not directly, of course. I don’t have a product or a service affiliated with this site. But I’m sharing info with you that I think will help you because I want you to live a better life, but also ultimately because I feel fulfilled when I’m influential in helping you live a better life. So I definitely get a payoff.
Are you guilty of selling to your friends? You could be and not even know it. Let’s dive in…
Do you talk a lot about your business, blog, church, ministry, hobby, activity, charity, event, or social gathering? Do you refer to yourself as a brand evangelist? Or even a religious evangelist? Non-profit people tend to miss this concept a lot. Whether ministry or charity, the non-profit status of their endeavor often gives people a sense of importance and entitlement that they believe translates to whomever they encounter.
But the truth is, your church and your charity are organizations with agendas, no matter how much that statement bothers you, and those agendas do not drive the deep personal motivations of everyone you know. It’s okay for it to be your thing. It’s just definitely not everyone else’s thing – even when they share similar values.
Do you have an MLM business? I’m going to pick on you for a moment because you live in a precarious social position. You are empowering friends and family to live a life of financial freedom while simultaneously pushing away most of the people who find MLMs repulsive. So the people who buy-in to the brand and the MLM lifestyle bond even more strongly to you, while the people who don’t want to hear about it are turned off by your constant selling.
It’s a divisive lifestyle decision. One you need to mull over before jumping in. You will find a community of people championing you that you may have never had before. And you may also lose some friends you’ve had for decades. There’s give and take.
Whatever you choose, try not to villainize the people who prefer the opposite position. They’re not your enemies or your obstacles. They’re really amazing people who have reasons for their choices.
Self-Awareness saves friendships
We often lack the level of self-awareness required to notice our own agendas or motivations. That’s why I built this site. It’s a topic I’m passionate about. Because ultimately, if we recognize our own motives, we can come to terms with why we don’t get the results out of life we think we want.
And to put this in marketing terms (since you are my target audience for this post), when you sit down with a friend to catch up, your lack of self-awareness is killing your friendship acquisition model.
don’t be “That guy”
I run into this all the time. I meet up with a friend over a coffee, a beer, or a meal. The friend asks me a casual question about my life, but moves on quickly to talk about themselves. I ask genuine questions. Their answers spur more questions. I can go for at least a couple hours asking questions and digging deep into what makes a person tick. In fact, I’ve learned over the years to pair down my curiosity as many people get exhausted or concerned by sharing too much too soon.
So there’s a balance. In order to build trust, I have to share my own story to some degree. A one-sided conversation starts to sound like an interrogation. On the other hand, I’ve had conversations go that direction not because I refused to share but because the other person never asked me a single question. They were happy talking about themselves until they felt satisfied, then they were ready to move on.
Not a great experience.
Connecting vs Marketing
Why does it matter if I talk about my business all day long? Why wouldn’t I talk about my blog every time we sit down for coffee? If you were more involved in my church, you probably wouldn’t be stuck in the same problems you’re facing right now.
If you constantly mention “your thing” during social time and friend-to-friend social media channels, you become a marketer in people’s eyes. Sorry that annoys you to hear, but it’s totally true. Call it your purpose. Call it your calling. Call it your duty. You still sound like a person with a widget selling that widget to anyone who will listen. And people subconsciously block out marketing that doesn’t resonate.
We build trust, connection, and equity with people through generosity and asking questions with genuine curiosity.
What are you most excited to talk about when we meet?
I Completely disagree With you, Daniel!
Go ahead and leave that comment if you need to. I know it’s coming. I know far too many entrepreneurs and multi-level marketing gurus who make their living by selling to friends and acquaintances. So before you blow up and unfollow me for life, let me add a caveat:
I wish more people were like Gary Vaynerchuk. If you’re not deeply entrenched in GaryVee culture, just do me ONE FAVOR and go read his book, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook. And in case you are the type to find hypocrisy around every corner, that link is NOT an affiliate link. Most other resource links will be. But since I want you to read a book about not selling to people all the time, the least I can do is not profit from the recommendation. 😉
But please, read this book. It doesn’t encapsulate the totality of my perspective, but it’s a massive head start in the right direction. I wouldn’t consent to turning every social interaction into a mathematical equation to build equity towards a future sale, but the actions are appropriate.
Generosity and listening lead to connection. Make them your go-to-move in social settings not to win a future sale, but because people are amazing. You’ll never see how amazing they are until you get granular. But it’s worth the effort.