Member Update: Unplanned Conversations

4 minute read

I’ve been working at home since long before it was a trend. I started working remotely with clients all the way back at the turn of the century. (Hold on while I feel ancient for a moment.)

And I’ve maintained throughout the last two decades that it makes sense for companies to allow employees to work remotely — and to hire more freelancers.

I still believe that.

But there is one thing that gets lost when you work remotely. The unplanned, happenstance conversations that occur in the hallway, in the breakroom, during a stop at a teammate’s desk, and of course, around the watercooler.

These spontaneous, “no set purpose” conversations have a lot of benefit.

They give people a chance to get to know each other outside of their role within a company or on a project.

And they can spark ideas that wouldn’t have otherwise come up in a planned conversation. Planning, by its nature, gives meetings direction and constraint (often important). The out-of-the-blue nature of unscheduled interactions sometimes yields creative thoughts and new ideas that are missed when everything happens in a meeting.

Now, how do I know this, having worked from home without watercooler run-ins for more than two decades?

That’s a great question.

It’s because of the live events I’ve attended over the years, especially the ones where other people I already know are also there. We bump into each other and catch up. We make plans for lunch and get to talking about the projects we’re working on. We bounce ideas off each other and help each other figure out problems. We share our big dreams and harebrained schemes… and in the course of the conversation, those crazy ideas gain momentum. We make referrals. And sometimes one of us will hire the other one for something.

These aren’t meetings. There are no goals for these conversations. And they don’t also end up being about work or projects. But invariably, they deepen relationships — a good result in and of itself.

So how do you have more of these spontaneous, unplanned conversations when you work remotely?

Well, you have some options, and I’ve got three suggestions to share with you…

Invite a colleague to have a drink with you

If you have steady colleagues because you work in-house or you’re on retainer with a company, think of someone you work with regularly, but maybe not daily, and ask them to join you for a Zoom coffee or cocktail hour.

Don’t put any designs on the get-together. Let them know you think it’d be fun to talk a little outside of work.

This doesn’t have to result in any groundbreaking ideas. But hopefully it results in a deeper connection between you both.

Join a local professional organization

You can do a Google search for these kinds of groups or find them on Meetup.

Find one that appeals to you, preferably one that will be frequented by potential clients.

Start attending their events regularly — both virtual and live.

Talk to people. Ask about what they do and how they like it. Just enjoy getting to know people.

The more you get to know them, the more natural — and deeper — the conversations will become, and a lot of good can come out of that for both of you.

Get spontaneous on LinkedIn

Go through your LinkedIn connections and make a list of everyone you know — all the people who, if you send them a message, will recognize you and most likely respond.

Get in the habit of reaching out to several of these people each week, not with a specific aim, but with the intent of seeing how they are and what they’re up to. See where those conversations take you.

By making it a point to have more unplanned conversations, you’ll develop deeper relationships and put yourself in the path of opportunities and ideas you might otherwise miss.

In Case You Missed It…

July finished strong on Digital Copywriter…

In her latest Email Marketing column, Michele Peterson explores five things you need to know before you start writing any email. When you have these five pieces of information in place, your writing will be stronger, and you’ll have an easier time achieving the goal in front of you. Discover the five things right here.

Figuring out how to say things in an impactful, memorable, persuasive way is why clients pay us. It’s the “how” that will make your work stand out. But… and this is important… if you don’t first figure out what you need to say, it won’t matter how well you say it. Your work will fall flat. In the newest UX/CX Copywriting column, I show you how to figure out what you need to say before you ever start writing.

And, if you missed my interviews with Sandy Franks and Pam Foster, you’ll want to give those a listen. Sandy shared some great tips on how to get started in direct response writing. (You’ll find those here.) And Pam shared some excellent tips for landing clients by being helpful. (Hear what she says here.)

Keep an Eye Out…

On Monday, Andrew Murray will show you exactly how and where to use your keywords in your content and on web pages so you help your audience and the search engines find your work. Your clients will love you when they see their traffic start to climb.

And then the following week, Maggie Peterson walks you through creating an easy-to-use Editorial Calendar for your social media management clients. This is a tool that can be a total game changer, helping to streamline and balance your content, plan for events and launches, and more.

And, August 11, we’ll be having our next Monthly Member Update. In this live webinar, I’ll share three daily habits writers can use to grow their business faster… and to get more satisfaction out of every day.

3 Things You Might Like…

Over on The Work at Home Woman, check out this list of free resources you can use to build your website, manage your time, track your finances, and more.

Wondering about all the different ways you might market services or help your client to market theirs? App Sumo has put together a list of 99 different marketing methods. You’re sure to find a favorite or two.

Want to learn more, learn faster, and learn more thoroughly? Give the Feynman Technique a try. Todoist shows you how it works right here.

That’s all for now. Tell us what’s new for you in the comments.