I’ve noticed a theme lately where people are asking, “How do we have more meaningful connections?”
Some theorize this is a backlash to Facebook and the “Gram” – that people are just sharing the best face of their life to the world. Maybe I’ve just got the whole social media thing all wrong and I’m showing way too many warts and all. Really, I think we’re pointing our finger at the latest trend when actually we could be asking a more powerful question: “How do we have more meaningful connections?” That transcends trends and time.
We need to ask this question more than ever before. We are a distracted society. We’ve got our heads down checking our devices. We’re so busy that our attention is focused on the discussion about the most valuable commodity that we have today and that we are spending so much time in our cars, commuting to and from work, driving our kids to activities and just occupying our life that we’re not spending the time connecting with each other.
Yes! There is an opportunity!
We can engage in meaningful dialogue, and build these relationships very quickly, even with perfect strangers. For those of us who are in business, we can find connections with people that potentially could be great clients through having a different approach to a dialogue. I mean, how many times has somebody asked you, “How’s it going?“, and you just say, “fine” or “good“, but you aren’t! Or if you are it still deflates a potential powerful connection opportunity.
When we engage in meaningful dialogue, where we seek to understand, connect and learn about the other person, we ask different questions than people having transactional dialogue. And that’s how you get noticed. These conversations are what people remember. You stand out because you cared just a little bit more. You are memorable because of what you discussed.
We’re not used to having these conversations though. When I coach entrepreneurs to have more meaningful conversations when they’re networking, conversing with a potential client or even in their personal lives, they’re worried they’ll come across as “nosy”, “pushy” and put people off. But consider this: do you like benign small talk? No way! Do you like realizing that you have something in common with a perfect stranger? Yes! So, what if you could make this connection at the same time it takes to have meaningless small talk? And what if it led to a cool new relationship, partnership or even a sale?
Consider this unique and great formula – “F.R.O.G.” (no not my normal FROG – Forever Recognize Others’ Greatness™) – this time it’s an easy to remember formula of the four areas that you can relate to just about anyone on. In fact, you can download a list of questions that fall under each of these four here.
F – Family & Friends
Family and Friends. If you ask or start a conversation inquiring about people’s family and friends, people are so much more interested in having that conversation. It could just be, “So, what are your kids into?” You may find within three shares back and forth that you have a lot of things in common.
R – Recreation
Recreation. What do you do outside of work, or what do you do for fun? What did you do when you were a kid? What would you do if you had a windfall of $10,000? There are all kinds of questions that allow you to connect on a human level, and to learn about what that person most values because that’s how they spend their very limited and precious discretionary time.
O – Occupation
Occupation, and not just “what do you do?” You can learn that from visiting someone’s LinkedIn profile. It’s more than that. What do you love about your job? Why did you choose that degree? Did you take a different career path? You’d probably learn something about their journey that would benefit you, but also, it’s questions that people don’t normally ask individuals, particularly as they’re networking and building relationships for the first time.
G – Goals & Passions
Goals and passions. What do you think will be the most important achievement that you will have in your career? Do you have anything on your bucket list that you want to accomplish this year? Whether somebody has a bucket list or not, they probably have heard of the concept and they can come up with something. Again, by understanding what somebody is super jazzed about, how cool would it be to have a conversation about that rather than the weather?
If you were to add a fifth area to build out some meaningful connection questions, what would it be? What is your favorite question to ask or be asked?
I hope that’s been helpful for you in having a conversational framework that you can plant in your head the next time you go to a networking meeting, meet new colleagues, in a sales meeting, or want to have a deeper, more meaningful connection. If you go to my website’s, Cool Stuff page, I’ve put together some questions underneath the F-R-O-G that you can put in your toolkit and effortlessly practice using those strategies.