Building connection with people is more of an art than many realize. Especially, if you’ve never met someone before, and you haven’t earned their trust.
Or maybe its been a long time, and you have some old opinions and stereotypes to overcome. Either way, here are a couple things that I intentionally do when talking/interviewing/making requests of people I don’t know that well.
1. Smile! I know, it seems to simple, but really, I practice smiling while I’m waiting for my meeting. Think happy thoughts. Change your demeanor to be positive. People will respond!
2. Buy them the lunch/coffee/etc! Not only is this: 1) a nice thing to do, 2) an excellent habit for building a lifestyle of generosity, and 3) practice of walking in a wealth mindset, but it also subconsciously shows people you are invested in them, and that they are worth your time and money. And if you have a request to make later, it can make them more likely to want to “return the favor”.
3. Lean in to people! If you are sitting at a table, it can be easy to start to slouch against your chair. Sit up straight, be as close as you can to your contact, and lean in. People will actually respond and lean in with you. Try this at a lunch meeting sometime. It’s pretty crazy how people subconsciously respond!
4. Sit on the same side of the table! When I have one-on-one meetings with clients, interns, and coworkers, I try to sit next to them, not across them. And I try to make sure that I go to “their side”, not have them come to mine. Try it: it really changes the dynamic of the meeting!
5. Don’t cross your arms! Keep them on the table, or fold your hands. But try not to cross them. You are subconsciously showing them a big “X” which in most cultures means “NO”. You want to be the “YES” in the meeting!
6. Ask questions! And then let them talk! You’ll learn a lot more about that person, and they will immediately feel a closer connection. Sure, their stories might be boring, or they might complain a lot, but ultimately it gives 1) lots of info on how to connect with them, 2) teaches you what kind of person your working with, and 3) makes you “someone who cares”.
7. Cue in on the current big deal in their life! Often people will mention something with a slight sigh or frown, or say: “but anyways”. That means its a big deal. I like to ask them specifically about that “subject” or say something that sympathizes with their feelings. This will get them to open up even more and feel like you are on “their side”.
8. Use humor! I like to throw in a joke, some small potty humor (when appropriate), or make an over-exaggerated statement. If you can get people to laugh with you, half of the “connection battle” has been won!
And on that note, what things do you like to do when building connection with someone new? 🙂