What mindset do you take into your conversation with new contacts?
I recently attended a talk by Italian leadership expert Luca Signoretti. Luca and I agree on most things but one area of difference stood out. Luca’s advice on developing new relationships centred on what you could give and get from a new contact, whereas my approach is much more focused on getting to know each other first.
I’ve just discussed this with Luca and we’re not so far apart on this topic after all. Luca told me that he sees connecting as ‘looking for a partner’. With any partnership you need to have an eye on the return. With limited time and energy, we need to be selective about partnerships we build. So understanding the return is key.
In my new presentation and workshop on professional relationships I distinguish between strategic and relational approaches to developing new connections. With the former you need to understand where your network falls short in helping achieve your goals. The latter focuses on finding rapport and building on it.
Where you are being more strategic you might be more transactional in your approach to developing the relationship. An accountant may well ask the financial advisor what they are going to do for them. And they may each measure just how much value the other party is bringing to their relationships – after all, there are other prospective partners who they could be investing time, energy and referrals in.
On the other hand, if you meet someone and just click but there is no immediate transactional value apparent, relax and let the friendship blossom. One day they may be in a prime position to refer you to your dream clients, or you may be able to give them advice that could turn their business or career around. You don’t know at this stage but enjoy their company and be open to supporting each other if and when the opportunity arises.
Luca’s Partnership and my Strategic approach complement each other. You can have a Partnership Mindset to building new connections AND a Relationship Mindset. It’s important to be clear about the type of relationship you are seeking to develop and, from there, understand the most suitable mindset. Of course the world isn’t black and white and a blend of the two is going to be the most powerful in most cases, it’s just a question of getting the blend right for each individual connection.