Carrie Wilkinson the barefoot executive delivered some great content in a networking teleseminar a few weeks ago. What stuck in my mind were her suggested questions to ask when meeting new people. These questions were:
What are you excited about for your business in 2010?
What does your ideal client look like?
I loved these questions when I heard them and thought to myself, wow that is going to make it so much easier for me to network at some functions that restart next month. But I was itching to try out these questions to see the reaction I received, so what’s a girl to do? An opportunity presented itself and I thought why not, just adapt. So I did, I rephrased the question for personal circumstances as I was attending a dinner party. The reactions were at all spectrums, thought provoking for some, simplistic for others and brick walls. The thought provokers loved it and had many revelations during the discussion as they had not really considered the question at a deeper level. The simplistic views were matter of fact as they had indeed thought about this very question before. Lastly were the brick walls that appeared out of nowhere. Some were able to be broken down with further questions, but others remained fiercely built and even with rephrased questions, armoured guards appeared to protect the wall. They weren’t nasty armoured guards but they were uncomfortable defending their territory. The dynamics that this question raised was quite fascinating and I enjoyed how it brought the table together in conversation. Mismatched interests were thrown out the window and the playing field was levelled. It was a great night that we thoroughly enjoyed and hope to attend many more this year.
So what was my aha moment? Engaging in stimulating thought provoking conversations that focuses on others and their insights does more for relationship building than anything else. New people you meet in business and in life require the same nurturing. So if you are trying to build a relationship with a potential business associate or even your brother’s new girlfriend that you don’t appear to have anything in common with, try the above questions or similar and see what happens. At the least you will level the playing field to enable exploration of common ground.