Maybe it will be the gal standing next to you at the car wash, or a friend of your Auntie!
I am a firm believer in synchronicity and in the idea that the universe (or whatever God you happen to subscribe to) is constantly giving me helpful nudges … and all I have to do is pay attention.
One evening I got a phone call from one of my many Aunties. In the culture in which I grew up in, anyone who was remotely related to you and was 10 or more years older than you, was an Auntie or an Uncle.
Auntie Olive told me that they were in town for a week long square dancing extravaganza and they they wanted to get together with me. My parents were out of town, so I was the “default” Rockett that needed to maintain family ties.
Square dancing. My reaction? BIG ROLL OF MY EYES. I had my fingers crossed that I wouldn’t be invited to watch.
But no … I was invited to brunch. I was about to sleaze out of it when a “nudge” compelled me to say YES.
The next morning (a weekend) I was about to dress in sloppy jeans and a T-shirt when I got another “nudge.” I ended up looking quite respectable.
When I arrived, we hugged and did a bit of a catch-up when a very nice looking older gentleman joined us. We were introduced … I was the “niece” and he was a “long ago former neighbor.”
My fear that the whole conversation would revolve around (eye roll) square dancing was happily proved to be wrong.
We had a delightful conversation talking about this and that and hearing about Albert’s (the friend) latest fishing trip adventure.
It was only WAY later in the conversation that Albert asked me what I did.
I went through my normal Elevator Spiel.
PHASE I: I am a script writer, I write video scripts for companies that need promotional programs or training programs.
Stop talking. Pause. IF their face turns funny or is totally blank, that’s all you say. Change the conversation … ask them what THEY do.
IF they actually look interested or ask … go onto Phase II.
PHASE II: Add a bit more. “I just finished a series of training programs for PCL on how to prepare and pour cement.”
Stop talking. Pause. IF their face looks blank, bored or funny, that’s all you say. Change the conversation … ask them what THEY do. IF they ask questions. Answer them, maybe tell a really short story and go onto Phase III.
PHASE III: Change the subject, especially if there are other people in the group.
Albert DID ask some questions, but because my Auntie and Uncle were there and I didn’t want to bore them I changed the subject. I never did ask Albert what HE did.
Fun times come to an end. More Auntie and Uncle hugs and well wishes.
When I started to tell Albert how nice it was to meet him, he asked me if I had a business card. OF COURSE! I’m not stupid!
He gave me a card back and said that he had a fun and delightful time. Off he went.
I didn’t look at his card until I got into my car.
The VICE PRESIDENT of AGT!
… at the time it was the biggest
and only telephone service provider in the province.
Sheesh, I thought. Good thing I didn’t wear those sloppy jeans!
I sure as heck didn’t expect Albert to call a month and a half later. He introduced me to their PR department and with HIS endorsement I was a shoe-in. Albert retired 3 years later, I worked for AGT on and off for over ten years.
We met for lunch at least once every six months even after he retired. We always had FUN, and other than a few times when he gave me referrals, we never talked about work. We finally both admitted to rolling our eyes and thinking that square dancing was … well, square!
Points to take home with you:
1. Listen for the nudges. Follow though with them. The more receptive you are to them, the more you will get.
2. Be fun, be nice, have a few funny stories to tell, or good questions to ask (NOT about work).
3. Listen and participate in the conversation even if it does end up being about square dancing.
4. Don’t automatically go for the “what do you do?” question.
5. BUT if someone asks YOU, have your Elevator Spiel ready to go.
6. Get out of the spiel as soon as you can, unless you are at a networking event or business event of some kind. Don’t give huge amounts of boring details. The idea is to give enough and not too much. The idea is to keep them interested and leave them wanting MORE. Pay attention … if they are not interested or their eyes are starting to glaze over, just drop it.
Understand: NOT every conversation or meet-up will lead to business. BUT they CAN, so be alert and always be prepared.