I recently went to my first Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals event. It turned out to be a much better networking event then I had expected, which was pleasantly surprising, and I was able to meet a handful of pretty awesome folks. There was a handful of great things about the event and I may post about those things another time, but for today… I wanted to talk about my expectations going in.
Let me ask a question before I go further. Have you ever been to a movie and had extremely high expectations going in, only to in the end leave the theater disappointed? Yet, when you talked to your friends about the movie the next day they were blown away. One of the main reasons for this is because of expectations. I have gone into movies with low expectations and been pleasantly surprised and I have gone in with high expectations and been sorely disappointed. Last night was more of the disappointed for me, but that is on me.
I was connected to this group by a friend and I went in with the purpose to talk to a few key people about an idea that I had to add value to the group. I know… stupid. That thought process is against all that I always talk about, but sometimes impatience and our past lives can get the better of us. The one saving grace though is that I was texting a friend before the event and as I was doing this I caught myself about to make a big mistake… going in looking for the sale. Since I caught myself having too high of expectations I was able to temper them a little, but not fully, and that is why I walked away a little disappointed in the whole thing.
No matter the event you are going to, even if you are the keynote speaker, make sure you temper your expectations. A guardrail that I am going to have in place is to go in wanting to share in at least one persons story. That doesn’t mean that I will do business with them eventually, it just means that I will pay attention to them and actually let them be heard. If I can offer advice, fantastic. If it leads to us connecting later on, great. If I can offer a smile, awesome. The outcome doesn’t really matter. I just know that from now on I am going to go in expecting to share in at least one persons story and let the rest fall where it may.
I am glad that I had that conversation with my friend beforehand because if I would have went in hot with barrels blazing, I would have missed the opportunity to connect with two pretty awesome guys that work five minutes from where I do.
Remember to check your expectations at the door because you don’t want to ruin a perfectly good experience.
The other day I was talking to a friend when he called me a networking machine. This was after I mentioned to him that I was grabbing ice cream with a friend at work who was retiring after 43 years of working at the good ol’ Tip Top Poultry. My initial response and the one that is screaming in my brain as I am thinking about this conversation is “I love people.”
I can’t help it, I have an insatiable urge to connect with others and share a little bit in their story. I want to get to know them for who they are and to see how we can connect.
Over the years I have learned how to dial down the intensity with how I passionately pursue people. (Ahhh the alliteration is abundant.) It has been tough, but dialing down the intensity has served me. I have come to realize that not everyone is as social, and people may want different types of relationships for us then I may be thinking. All of this is ok, it just allows me to use a little emotional intelligence as I get to know others.
I mention all of this because I want to challenge you to get out there and connect with others. I know that may not be your thing, but life is infinitely better together. Connect with others how best works for you. You have amazing insights and experiences to offer others and you are not done growing yourself. Please, do us all a favor and love on people how best works for you because I can promise yo u one thing if you actually do just that, this world will be a better place as you connect with others and show them that community is all around.
Why does it even matter for us to empathize with others?
This past year I had hip surgery. I knew the recovery would take time and be difficult in some aspects, but until I was going through it, I didn’t realize how hard it would be. For two weeks I couldn’t drive and I never imagined how giving up that freedom could be so life altering. I hated having to rely on others for every move I wanted to make. There is so much freedom that comes with a car, and I now fully understand that.
Not only could I not drive for a couple weeks, but I also have a semi constant numbness and pain that I feel in the area around my surgery, and when I do certain movements there is a flash of searing pain. Now I have not taken pain meds since after the third day of surgery, but going through this experience has helped me understand how people could take those meds longer than they should. It would be so easy for someone to have this little bit of pain and want it solved through pills.
Since this experience, I can better empathize with others around me. What I have come to realize is that most of the time we only no a small part of someone’s story. Before we decide to judge or make a decision about someone, we really need to hear what is going on in their lives. Showing empathy will further endear you to those you are in a contact with and is a great way to build a foundation that could eventually lead to a great connection. If you want to build a strong relationship and show someone you really care, it starts with a massive dose of empathy and realizing that we are all in this together. If you truly want to succeed in business, this is one of those foundational things you need to work on.
I have a friend who works for a large carrier and has absolutely been crushing it. Recently, she got a promotion and has already been making waves and getting stuff done. Now why is all this important? You’re about to read why.
My friend has been in the supply chain and logistics world for a bit and has built up an amazing reputation which I can personally attest to. I was thrilled when she said she was moving into a new role, yet also a little sad because it meant that she would no longer be in charge of my account. Now that she has been in this new role for a couple of months, it seems my feelings of sadness are not exclusive to me.
As we recently connected over the phone, she mentioned a few customers had requested, on pain of losing their business, that she stay as their rep. This is huge! Why, because it clearly shows that people are buying her, not her company.
You need to realize that when you are selling something, that people are buying you and not your company. Oh… and by the way, no matter who you are and what your position is you are selling something. The company’s name and reputation may get you in the door, but it certainly won’t close any deals for you or keep customers.
People are buying you and the experience you are giving them. NEVER… forget that.
People seems to be focusing on the wrong things… themselves. Now don’t get me wrong, I am as guilty as the next person. I love thinking about myself and how I can get better, improve, and grow my connections.
Life and these lovely social networks, like LinkedIn, are all about relationships. If you want to grow them, you need to plant lots of little seeds along the way. How you do this is by engaging with others that are in your network. Scroll through your feed, find an interesting picture or someone you respect, actually take in whatever their content is, and engage with it. Don’t just give a quick like and scroll on, leave a thoughtful comment. Leave them something that gives them kudos or poses a question.
If you want to grow your community and your engagement, it’s all about commenting and interacting with others. It’s about planting lots of little seeds and growing your brand, your community and your network one person at a time.