An App for Conversation Starters

June 15, 2011

My wife has discovered new way to start conversations, both at social events with our friends and at business events she attends with me. She poses one single question and her conversations are well under way: “What is your favorite app?”

Not an uncommon question, you might think.  Perhaps one you’ve even asked yourself, or been asked. But it’s a question with monumental conversational power in this age we live in.

What fascinates me is the responses she gets.  They fall into two categories.  The first is the classic, “I don’t have need of apps and don’t get why they are necessary.” To this response my wife nods her head, smiles knowingly and concurs, adding that her husband thinks they are not only necessary but essential, and she would rather watch paint dry or iron clothes (the latter of which I know to be an exaggeration) than mess with apps.

The second, and more typical, reply is, “I just found a great new app that does…,” and the one-sided conversation commences with my wife nodding and listening attentively.  It could be an app for navigation, email, calendars, music, social networking, time management, weather, shopping, calculating, reading QR Codes and Barcodes, dictionary and thesaurus, commodity prices, financial markets, web searches, managing movie services and TV recordings, newspapers and journals, viewing videos, following sports, religious education, or listening to the radio.  For iPad owners, it could also be an array of more sophisticated apps for word processing, spreadsheets, project management, customer relationship management, photo management, presentations, eBooks, games, and even managing blogs.

What makes this most intriguing is that she does not own a smartphone or any other mobile device that could utilize apps involving business productivity, information enhancing tools, or, heaven forbid, games. Yet despite her own lack of experience, this question never fails to send uncomfortable silence out the window and bring engaging conversation in.

Why do I mention this?  After witnessing the above conversation starter a few times, it dawned on me that this would be a great conversation piece in networking situations, after mutual introductions, and in that sometimes awkward space of time during which I look for an opportunity to launch my 30-second elevator speech.

For referral marketers, an app conversation could also be used to mention one or more of their referral partners.  “You know, I am in a referral marketing group with some folks who use apps for time management and gather information for their business, (and/or social media for business, and/or keeping up with sports or business news).”  For example, “I should introduce you to Ryan, who is an account manager with ABC Corporation.  Ryan is a great guy who has helped several people I know save money with their insurance benefit programs, and I think you two would relate on your use of apps.” Just as my wife uses the app conversation starter to turn potentially uncomfortable situations into engaging conversation, you can use the app conversation starter to turn a missed opportunity into a referral or two…or more.

What are your favorite apps?   I have a Google phone and an iPad, and would love to hear about your favorite apps. How have you seen apps spark conversation?

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