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.
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.