Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Keep Your Peas In Your Pocket and Make a Real Connection

The other day I was having lunch with a potential client and the subject of networking came up. This business leader mentioned that he had heard a number of positive things about my 8 Minute Ripple events and wondered how they might be different than the general business mixers and chamber luncheons he was accustomed to attending.

When we began talking about the 8 Minute Ripple and the fact that I specifically position the event to be about creating real connection between my participants and that we specifically request that people keep their business agendas at home, he was confused.

"But Steve if business people are there to meet other business people isn't it natural for one to expect that business is what people want to talk about?"

Not necessarily I answered but it is what is expected in "traditional networking" environments and hence why I tend to detest them so much.

Bottom line, when you meet someone for the first time and you ask or get asked that heinous question "So what do you do?" a defining moment occurs. In about the thirty seconds (sometimes way longer for audacious windbags that love to hear themselves talk) you have successfully narrowed your focus into a very finite category with very little room to grow if there is no immediate business connection.

I digress with this example but I think you will get the point.

New Guy - "So I love peas." business translation --- I sell insurance

Me - "I hate peas." business translation --- I don't need insurance

New Guy - "But peas are awesome." business translation --- But you need my insurance

Me - "Maybe for you." business translation --- No I don't now bug off

Uncomfortable silence ensues. This guy is now the freakoid that likes peas and because he likes peas and/or sells insurance the conversation has been narrowed down so quickly (what do you do and do you need what I have) there is no place to go with the conversation. It is now officially dead. Time of death....O'(I wish I Had Listened To That Harper Guy)6:30. Someone call the morgue stat!

Now what if you hadn't started with peas but something about what brought me to Austin or where I purchased my snazzy purple tie, or something that gave us a baseline for some communication that resembled two people getting to know each other? Instead our culture demands that we focus immediately on what this person can do for us or what we can do for them and if there is no immediate relevance its time to move on.

If pea brain and I had found some common ground....a connection point between the two of us and we took the time to build a little rapport, mutual admiration for one another, then when and if the subject of peas (or insurance) came up, he might have my full and captivated attention.

People there are no rules. How many of you are pushing peas when you should be pushing you. People connect with you. Despite what all the networking gurus and their fancy books say, connecting with people isn't a numbers or quantity game. It's an experience. Don't burn the experience and what might be an otherwise amazing future connection for yourself by popping your peas out before they have had time to cook.

Part Two and my client's reaction to keep your peas in your pocket in a day or two.

BTW.....we have our next 8 Minute Ripple happening on January 17th! Email me at if you would like to come and NOT TALK ABOUT PEAS!

Ripple On Ripple Nation!


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