Have you noticed on LinkedIn and at in-person networking events and meetings that people have a tendency to connect to you rather than with you?
What’s the difference?
Connection to someone is a surface activity where you seek to know what the person does for a living rather than learn their story which leads to an understanding of who the person is.
A question I ask when I first meet with someone is, “Tell me about your journey.”
That’s it! No more, no less.
The typical response is a question, “Are you talking about what I do now?” to which I answer, “No, I want to know about your life that brought you to where you are now.
In a recent Zoom meeting with a new LinkedIn connection, the initial question and response led to a journey that was fascinating and highlighted by lessons learned along the way.
The result of the conversation was two people who enjoyed each other’s company, not for what we do or can do for each other, but how we got to where we are, revealing wisdom and understanding.
This interaction reminded me of a story about the late, great NBA star, Bill Russell. At 6’9”, you can imagine he stood out in a crowd.
John Havlicek, one of Russell’s teammate recounted the story.
“Bill and I were standing in a hotel lobby when an older woman came up to Russell and asked, ‘Are you a basketball player?’
Russell answered, ‘No ma’am, I am not.’
After the woman walked away, Havlicek asked Russell why he answered that he was not a basketball player, to which Russell answered, ‘Because a basketball player is not who I am. It is what I do.’”
In Proverbs 13:20, Sol says, “The one who walks with the wise will become wise, but a companion of fools will suffer harm.”
Leaders recognize that wise counsel is not wrapped up in what a person does, but the story of the wisdom gained on the journey to where they are now.
Ask the right questions, make it a great day, and keep being awesome.
Brian Kennedy is an encourager who shepherds small business owners and entrepreneurs along the path of business success to preeminence by embracing time tested principles and executing the associated fundamentals daily.