You know them. They are the people you meet and when, the meeting is over you feel better for the conversation. You want more. What is it that makes them so successful? They do these five things right.
- They are present. And by present I mean they are all in to the conversation with you. Their phone is not out on the table having a cup of coffee with your phone. They are listening… they are making eye… contact they are asking good questions.
All too often people come into a conversation and, they are bringing the residual energy of the conversation or phone call they just completed. They are thinking about the meeting or conversation that is coming up. Whatever the case, they are not with you and you can feel it.
Think back to a networking event where the people you are speaking with are carrying their phones around, constantly checking or, even worse texting. How do you “Feel” (sense) in a conversation with them? Now contrast that with the person you fell in love with. Remember how they used to (maybe still do) hang on your every word, asking pertinent questions? How did you want to respond?
How do you want the people you connect with to feel?
- They don’t pontificate. They are in the conversation to learn also, not just to talk at you about whatever it is they think they are so smart about. (I know sometimes with the news focused on politicians, we think pontification is powerful. It Is not).
Dale Carnegie said it years ago, “Talk to someone about themselves and they’ll listen for hours.” People really want to be seen and heard. And if we are just talking at people and showing off how smart we think we are; we are just turning the spot light on ourselves. It’s not connecting.
One way to help with this is to be curious. What is it that brought this person to the event? What is it about their business that they love? What would they change? What do they aspire to? I promise you, if you go into a conversation and are genuinely curious about these kinds of topics, you will connect.
What do you want to know about this person that you are engaged with?
- Ask open ended questions. This might seem obvious but even I note that I am often asking binary questions, yes or no. Yet when we get people to think about their answer beyond yes or no, they open up and often times discover something about themselves in how they answer you.
What will they remember about your connection?
- Be clear on your goals and the outcomes you want from the conversation. All too often I have been on a ride along with sales people who show up and throw up. They are winging it. And I observe many of my colleagues in the healthcare setting act like they are having the same conversation over and over again. AND THEY ARE because they are not slowing down to connect with their goals in the encounter. I find three questions helpful:
What is my end in mind? What outcome would I like from this encounter?
What impact do I want to have? I am reminded of Maya Angelou here with her statement, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
If this is what I want, how do I have to BE to do this? Another way to say this is how do I want to show up.
- Be authentic. When people are surveyed, they universally say they want to connect with others. They want to know what is happening, how the other feels about I,t and what they stand for. All too often we show as we think we “need” to in order to be the strong executive presence. Here is the hard truth. You can’t hide it anyway. People are usually able to see right through insincerity. When people show up (really anybody) as themselves, clear on where they stand for themselves and their teams, they inspire loyalty.
I remember a few years ago I had a meeting with a new potential client. I had had the initial (Surface conversation) and now I had to pass the key screener. The person who I would interact with the most should I be successful in the interview. And I was going to this meeting stuck on a family issue. I had a lot of head trash going on. And as I got closer to the office I was aware that I was not present. So as I parked my car, I stopped and took a few deep breaths and said to myself, “I can come back to that. I am going to be present and all in in this conversation”.
I then got clear on what a super win would be and the minimum that would be a win. (Clear on my outcomes). And then I went in with a smile and lots of questions. I pulled things into the conversation… like what I liked about their values and their operating guidelines. I asked good questions and I was authentic and vulnerable in my answers.
The result, I got the gig and continue to work with this organization. So remember:
- Be present
- Don’t pontificate
- Ask open ended questions
- Be clear on your goals
Do these five things and you will be amazed at the quality of the connections you make.