How to Network with Dream Connections - Rule #5

There are many ways to start, continue or conclude a conversation.

Some of them depend on personality, or the surroundings you're in.

But who can resist a question? Especially one well-asked in good faith?

I've found a questioning "sequence," that works every time I try it.

But there's a way you do this, that requires self-discipline and patience.

Here's a shameless self-plug to a podcast interview I did about that.

 

What People Get Wrong About Interacting

 

Do you get bored of asking, "How are you?" or "What do you do?"

After a while, I found myself saying "What's new?" to people ... and

to be honest? I already knew, and I didn't really care.

 

That's not a good place to be in, if you love building relationships and

interacting with people. But let's face it, especially if you're doing this

locally and seeing a lot of the same people all the time, it gets quite

repetitive. I didn't want to ask, "What's new?" partly because all I had

to do was go look at the person's Facebook page, and I'd know.

 

It's a bit like asking for information you can now Google, right? Our era

isn't generous with trivia, because we've delegated it to machines.

 

I also dislike name tags. Sorry to sound like an old grouch, but I do.

 

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Firstly, I know that I can be wearing a name tag, surrounded by other

people also wearing name tags, and forget their names anyway. I find

it creates those needlessly awkward moments where you keep looking

at their name tag, even though you've read it three times, to address them.

 

That isn't because I don't care what people's names are, either. I don't

make excuses for not remembering names; I prefer to remember them.

But let's face it, not everyone is memorable, either.

 

Or are they?

 

My experience is, more people are much more memorable than we

would expect, if we perceive them correctly. Our culture's spent many

frivolous years attempting to persuade us that we're nothing more than

organisms. In truth, we are stories.

 

Okay, Enough Theory

 

By perceiving others as living, breathing stories instead of evolved

gorillas, we can ask questions to shake people free of the empty

answer they give when you ask how they're doing: "Fine."

 

We can begin, instead, by asking a question that asks about their most

recent moments of joy, happiness, success, victory and so forth:

 

What's going well for you lately?

 

Now, read that question to yourself ... do you find yourself thinking of

your most recent wins? Did you close a big sale, solve a huge problem,

have a great trip or family time? Well, high performers and public figures

have those things too. And you can ask about them.

 

What's not going so well these days?

 

After they talk about their latest wins, this question's where you make

the money. You don't have to use this phrasing, necessarily; I prefer to

say, "What's the hardest part of being you right now?" It depends on 

the formality level, and how you're introduced.

 

Everyone - including dream connections - wants to be asked this

question. Why? Well, for one, you can actually listen and demonstrate

empathy for their difficulties.

 

But more than that, you carry in your head a giant personal Rolodex of

connections, ideas, events and opportunities. You may be able to help

that person, no matter how high up the chain they are. If you go back to

the earlier lesson on becoming a scout, you can provide the path.

 

If you don't believe me, you can read personal stories of how I've done

this in my book, Influencer Networking Secrets, due out in September.

 

What Are You Looking Forward To?

 

Don't you love it when people ask, "What are your plans for the weekend?"

I do, even though my weekends aren't typically busy. Well, dream

connections may not have the weekend in mind, but they may have some

big plans coming down the pike and they'll be quite eager to share them

with you if you ask. 

 

Do you see here how we're asking questions that inquire after MORE

of the person we're speaking to? That's what makes them so different

from "Hey, how's it going?" or "What's new?"

 

Effectually, we're asking them, "What's happened in the last couple of

weeks? What's giving you trouble right now? What's in the works?"

 

Treat people like living, breathing stories and you'll be amazed where

it takes you. I used to pooh-pooh the saying, "Facts tell, stories sell."

I would tell stories, but people wouldn't buy. Of course; I was taking it

literally, or thinking I had to be Garrison Keillor with my storytelling ability.

 

The SECRET is that the prospect is the story ... not the salesman.

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