Meet someone important at an event? Here are 5 ways to kill that connection:
- Pass the name to an underling. Nothing says, “I’m better than you” like having someone who’s not yourself follow up.
- Ask, “How can I help you?” This question is quite en vogue these days. Liz Strauss will tell you, it’s a bad question, and she’s right. The question makes me do all the work of figuring our relationship out—and things that create more work for me are not helpful. Instead, ask about my plans and then tell me how you think you can help.
- “Hi! Great to meet you! Can you introduce me to…?” I’ve heard this before: two seconds into a conversation, and already, someone wants me to make an introduction for them, before I know who they are, how good they are, what they do, what they want… it brings to mind that Kanye song: “I ain’t saying she’s a gold digger…”
- “I got your name from Denise… Denise who? Um…” Lies make a wonderful foundation for a fractured relationship.
- I read your profile on LinkedIn and then Googled you. Found some interesting stuff… did you really not break 3 hours when you ran the Chicago Triathlon? From the looks of you, I figured you’d be faster.” It’s true: telling someone that you’ve researched them online, and then mentioning an esoteric piece of information about them in a judgmental way is creepy.
Turning connections into relationships as adults is no different than making friends as a child. Seriously. Childhood was practice for adulthood.
So if you ever made a friend as a kid—even if you only made one—that’s your method. Keep doing that. If you want different types of friends as an adult, then rather than trying too hard and getting all awkward, do this:
- Watch how others do it. One thing you’ll probably notice is that people who are good at making friends seem to have more confidence than you.
- Give yourself a hug. Confidence comes from being comfortable with who you are. Whoever you are, own it! That’s what fail spectacularly is all about; for me, I’ve always been under pressure to excel… but what if I don’t? Well, then I’ll own the failure—and I’ll fail spectacularly.
- Develop a script. Make a list of things you’re interested in. Make another list of stories that have happened to you. (If you can’t think of any, don’t worry. This week, you will—and when you do, write them down!) Memorize both lists; when meeting people, draw from the stories, and steer conversations to topics where you have something to add.
- Practice. Don’t expect to get there in a day. Give yourself time to improve!
Jason Seiden is CEO of Ajax Workforce Marketing. Ajax amplifies brands by aligning employees' online messaging.