I was at a party recently, and ended up talking to a lady much younger than I am. We didn’t have anything in common, so I kept the conversation going by asking her two questions: “What did she do?” and “Where did she go to school?” She did most of the talking, but it was enjoyable, and after a few minutes we both drifted off into other conversations.

A week later, I ran into the same young lady at another event. Only this time, she acted like we were long-lost friends. As she chatted away, it occurred to me that the conversation we’d had a week before had somehow got her to trust me.

It works the same in marketing. Sales start with trust. Trust is built by communication, and communication starts with questions.

This is what makes social networking sites like Facebook both easy to use and difficult to use at the same time. Facebook doesn’t generate sales – it generates conversation and trust, which can lead to sales.

Yet many business owners use Facebook as a way to tell their clients about products and specials. Telling is “old-school marketing”, like flyers, mailers and commercials. This type of marketing can announce a special offer, but it cannot build trust.

In the same way, if I had spent my time “telling” the young lady about myself or my business at the first party, she probably would have ignored me forever afterwards. Instead, I made a friend, I built some trust, and some day may even have a new client.