Every person you meet has value…
Often when I speak with people at Networking events the first question that I get asked is “What do you do?” … it always brings a smile to my face that one.
Behind that question often lurking is a judgement. Not a judgement of me as an individual necessarily (although I am sure that has happened), but a judgement of whether I am going to be ‘worth a conversation’.
What constitutes being ‘worth a conversation’ in many circles is… is this person likely to be interested in what I am punting? … if the answer is no… you are wasting my valuable time, do you have a card (I want to Spam you my stuff later) and… next!
If this is going on in your network then there is a plenty of scope for improvement I would suggest. Every single person that we connect with can help us and we can help them. To understand this ‘idea’ we do have to open our minds beyond Networking for business (covered in an earlier post).
Below is a list of ways that interaction can be beneficial… it is by no means a full list… that is as vast as there is people… but I have summarised some of the more prominent ones…
- You may well have something in common that will make you almost instant buddies. Things like… lived in the same town, went to the same school, have common friends, visited the same countries, went on holiday to the same part of the world, have kids the same age, kids go to the same school… do you get the idea?
- You might discover that the person you are talking too has an issue that one of your contacts can easily resolve for them… without talking you would never have known.
- Both in the same line of work, actually a bit different but complementary and you could work together on some projects which would be amazing
- In the same line of work and could help out if there are peaks in the volume of work. Who doesn’t need a trusted extra pair of hands when they are needed
- Have the same hobbies, interested in the same things, can’t stop talking… been there!
- Find out that years ago the person has done some amazing things, things that perhaps you would love to do… here is a person with experience that can inspire you to achieve something you have put on the back burner
- The person you are talking too is absolutely perfect for you to introduce to someone you know… they need exactly this person… I have forgotten how many times this has happened to me
- The person you are talking to knows everyone in the community, and has been wired in for decades (maybe retired even). At first glance why would I talk to someone who is now out of it… well an introduction from a local legend with thousands of contacts is someone I think is work talking too!
- It may just be the person you are talking to is just not your cup of tea. In your opinion they might be arrogant, money driven and greedy, hard nosed… a bit disrespectful…
At the same time though, this is an opportunity to learn… do you walk away finding it uncomfortable? … persevere as a chance to improve your communication with people you find difficult to establish common ground… or… do you try to find out why their world looks so different to yours… perhaps there is a reason… Maybe there is some turmoil in their life… or… a chance to get under the covers and find out more.
Above just 9 thoughts about people you meet… you might never do direct business with these people… but if you are kind, courteous, empathetic, helpful… and genuinely interested in their story… then you will come up in conversation with people they meet. If this happens to you, then you might be the only person that ever took the time to listen to them… they never get to this point, they mess up way to early… this might be a momentous moment in their life… at a networking event!
We are all a story… a story that ends when we pass. Until that point our story unfolds as an adventure that we write… a new page each day.
Our life is not just about business, it is a complex mix of all manner of different things… people come into our lives and they play a part… influence, guide, teach us lessons (good and bad)… some become friends, for others their time in your life might be short and sweet, but it might be different in 10 years when more water has passed under the bridge (for both parties) and we have grown in our understanding, experience and wisdom.
None of the above magic happens if we look at a person as a £ sign… what does this say about us? Often it is not our fault… we just copied what others were doing to us at other networking events. We didn’t even think about it.
If we just look at the person’s job we miss the person… it is the person that holds the magic… and it is us, ourselves, and what we do… that stops their magic… be better!
When we talk to anyone, if we set our minds up to be ‘interested and curious’ about the person we are speaking with, we are much more likely to have engaging conversations… through conversation we learn about each other, and really get to know one another. Before long there will be a list of things you can help each other with… from introductions, to interesting links…
Give it a whirl next time you are networking…