Making connections that are meaningful requires some effort on your part. Find out how creating affinity, establishing common ground, and avoiding the word “but” can help you network and create relationships.
Commit to Making Connections With People Around You
The time and date are set. You made sure you arrived early because you wanted to do everything you could to make a good first impression. It’s your favorite “after-work” haunt so you’ll feel right at home.
You’ve rehearsed your intro, keeping things light and hopefully funny, but you’re anticipating the words that’ll give you an opportunity to really get the conversation going. At the end of the day, though, you just hope you like them and they like you.
Sounds like going out on a first date, yes? My partner and I “date” as much as we can, but a first date has been so long for me I’m not sure I’m the guy you want dating advice from!
I do know something about creating great first impressions with potential clients or business partners. Just like any other human connection, there are things we can do to give ourselves a chance of making a great impression and set ourselves up to get what we’re looking for.
Tips for Making a Great First Impression
1. Most of the top marketers in the world hardly ever talk about product! They talk to get people to like them, so when the moment comes the selling is easier.
2. The one thing that’s critical for everything in life—not just in negotiations but in making connections with anyone—is to create affinity. Affinity is closeness, warmth, and likability. People generally act based on emotion (something to remember when marketing!), and then they justify their decisions with logic.
In other words, people will usually give a much better opportunity to someone they like.
I’m not talking about flattering and butt-kissing. That’s fake affinity. More than likely most people will sniff that out and get turned off quickly. Genuine affinity means genuinely intending to make an honest and real connection with the other person.
3. We do it all the time and probably don’t think about it much: finding something in common. I’m like you is another way of saying I like you. Take this to another level by stating your intention for a win-win situation early and often. It’s as simple as saying something like, “I want to make sure this works for you.”
4. Also, think about how disempowering the word “but” can be in a conversation. Think about what it feels like when you are trying to get your point of view across to someone, and they respond by saying, “Yeah, but …” It’s as if everything you just said was negated. It stings. Avoid “buts”.
These things work great for when you’re trying to convince your partner to see the movie you want to see, or get your kids to eat their vegetables, or get a vendor to give you the pricing you’re looking for.
There is another level to this, though, a spiritual warrior component. Your intention has to be genuine caring for what the other person wants, and the focus and confidence to know that you can create the win-win. How Zen can you get?
Over the next week or so, use due discretion and try making connections with strangers if the moment is appropriate. You don’t have to try to “get” something from them. Just create affinity. Use phrases that show you understand. If you disagree, make your point without saying “but”. Do this with people that you know! Let us know what happens!