In a recent post (“Make it About Them”) by Matt Holmes, the Denver networking guru brings up a fundamental – but never too-often-repeated adage about shoulder-rubbing: Engaging others should start with a conversation about them – not you. He also refers to one of my favorite Zig Ziglar quotes from the book, “Secrets of Closing the Sale” (click to get it), which I highly recommend.
Matt’s angle is tactical, as it reinforces the practice of basic inquiry in the context of active business hobnobbing. I’d like to go further with it, though, because it’s already easily halfway to a much more meaningful way of living in a broader sense: Actually engaging with others from a place in ourselves where we actually seek to help them along in the universe.
Of course that’s easier said than done. And I can imagine some of the eye rolls I’ll get here when I not only say that it’s a bit of work – and perhaps even more challenging – it involves matters of the heart. (If anyone is ready to click away here, that means it’s even more important to stay!)
My point: Everywhere, especially in the startup world – where we’re in many cases actually building awesome solutions with a lot of benefit to others – it’s tempting to run on (and on, and on) about OUR stuff. But even if one looks at it pragmatically, the best way to connect your business “out there” is to change “in here” (in our hearts) so that knowing others and their goals becomes part of the DNA of our M.O.
When we approach others this way it’s not “faking it” to find out what others are into. It’s not about feigning interest so that we can “see where there’s a fit” to launch into selling our product. The Zen idea of truly “forgetting ourselves,” even for for just a moment while we meet someone new, turns the dynamic around to create a true emotional/spiritual engagement and can spark a commitment to mutually helping each other achieve our greater purpose.
Imagine if everyone approached networking, or – (gasp) every single interaction we have, from the beggar on the street to the venture capitalist with whom we have a high-stakes meeting – with the intent to help others reach the ultimate purpose they were put on this Earth to achieve!
Would sales increase? You bet! Would people feel more connected and loved, and actually get further along in their ultimate purpose? Without a doubt.