According to Seth Godin, there is no greater indicator of future behavior than the answer to the question: Will I see you tomorrow? “Fly-by, drive-by, anonymous, see-you-sucker interactions are easy to start, easy to be disappointed by, hard to count on when it comes to civility or a career.”
Once you make that initial contact, follow-up intensely, if you want to begin building a relationship.
Brief encounters have the potential to be forgettable and make you forgettable to the other person unless you follow-up with more substantial interactions. Use these three steps to turn fly-by interactions into real connections:
- Pick up the phone – Real-time conversations where you can hear voice inflections and respond quickly to questions and thoughts provides more insight into personalities and compatibility. A certain level of interest and compatibility is required for all meaningful connections.
- Follow-up with social media – I connect with people through email, twitter and LinkedIn. I make an effort to share targeted content with my key contacts. If I identify an article related to their area of interest, I will send it directly to them or tag them in a social media posting.
- Meet in person and solidify the connection – I generally meet with new connections over coffee or lunch within two weeks of our first introduction. It’s a casual meeting intended for us to continue our initial discussions and explore interests. This conversation enables us to determine if we want to pursue a deeper connection. I typically meet someone for coffee at least one or twice per week.
Establish integrity and reliability by keeping your committments to the meet-ups.
Nothing sets a bad tone for the start of a relationship more than being late or being a no-show. If you have a schedule conflict, be courteous, and notify the person waiting to share their time, knowledge and possibly connections with you. If you forget the meeting (even though you should not, because all dates are in your calendar), immediately apologize via a phone call.
Determine if you want to build the relationship.
We are all busy and between work, family, hobbies and other interests, we often prioritize what will give us the most enjoyment or return on our investment of time, energy and resources. Development of new relationships often goes through this same prioritization.
During a meet-up, remember that the person sitting across from you is there for a reason. They likely want something from you. Try to ask enough questions during the conversation to figure out what they are seeking (coaching, advice, connections, jobs, etc.). On more than one occassion, someone has asked me “So, what can I do for you?” Give some thought to your own motivations before the meeting.
Do not over committ to requests just to make nice with a new contact.
Remain curious about others.
Afterall, curiosity about others leads us to bonds we otherwise overlook. I have met some of my best friends this way.