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.
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.
Life is infinitely better together and I think that is something we can all agree on. As true as that is, it still seems that people are living their lives more and more in isolation and behind screens. Let me encourage you to do something a little cray cray… pick up the phone and make a call. I honestly don’t care to whom, just make the call.
Good, now that we have started to loosen up, I want you to do something really crazy. What I need you to do is think about the people you interact with on social media or those you work with, but have only talked with through email. Narrow it down to one person, and give them a call. Don’t have their number? Doesn’t matter. Reach out and ask for it. Don’t make this some weird awkward hopeful date thing. This is a you genuinely caring about another human being that you have done life with kind of a thing.
I have been able to do this a handful of times over the past couple of months and it has been such a great learning opportunity. Here are just a handful of things I have learned:
- Know your personal brand. This gives clarity for the big and small decisions we’ll make.
- Patience, mixed with realistic expectations, is what will help you as you navigate business and the need to not only provide for your family, but also close deals and provide for your customers.
- Vague beginnings lead to chaotic endings.
- Culture is everything. Make sure it is their from the beginning of your business and not something you halfheartedly add at the end.
These four brilliant nuggets of gold are what I have learned from others. Please, do us all a favor and grow your network and community by authentically caring about others and getting to know them. One last word of caution. Don’t go into these conversations trying to dig out some brilliant life lesson. Go into the conversation with some general questions and direction, but let it go where it goes.
Who do you need to call? What did you learn?