Get personal and watch a person light up

The scene: Two workers decompress over a beer at a local conference’s happy hour.

When this conversation ends, what will anyone remember?

“So, what do you do?” says the bespectacled middle manager #1. The grey in his hair is slight, yet his face’s wrinkles signify many years of hard work.

“Oh, I am an engineer,” responds middle manager #2. His hip backpack with electronic gadgets and artsy glasses hint that he’s new to the working world.

“Where do you work?” says manager #1, sipping slowly from his ice cold green bottle of Heineken.

“ICE Wonder Corporation,” responds the engineer. “I just started there after I finished school last fall.”

The conversation drags slowly along, finally crashing to a halt with the inevitable exchange of business cards; two people with so much potential and opportunity never to cross paths again. There’s a ‘chance’ that new business was generated, a referral was brokered, career advice was shared. More than likely, however, there’s very little that managers #1 and #2 will remember about one another when the happy hour ends.

Ask these types of questions and watch a person grow:

  • What do you like to do on the weekends?
  • What’s been your favorite vacation spot?
  • When have you felt most alive?

It’s fine to talk ‘work’. After all, it’s what’s pays the bills. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you’ll meet a person and you ’just click’. You laugh, swap stories, enjoying the company the entire time.

If not, crack into authenticity by using the above questions to find out if that engineer is:

–the world’s greatest Nascar fan
–a season ticket holder for your favorite football team, Chicago Bears
–a die hard 30 Rock viewer (he’s never missed an episode!)

Not everyone will feel comfortable getting personal. That’s ok; it’s their choice. Keep at it. Find connection points even if they are far away from the 9-to-5. If it works, you’ll forge a strong professional connection while uncovering the uniqueness that lives inside each of us.

Until next time,

Dan Naden

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