“Long time, no speak. How ya doing?”
As they initiate the small talk, you’re thinking, “what do they want from me?”
Some people will call you just to say hi. To find out what’s up. To ask how you’re doing. They do it because they care about you, because they’re interested in your life, because they miss you.
Others only call when they need something. A favour. Money. Advice. Someone to vent their frustrations on. Someone to moan and complain to.
There’s someone you want to meet. You send a message. “Hey, so-and-so mentioned you and said he thought we should meet. Fancy grabbing a coffee next week?”
The recipient of your message has two thoughts: “Exciting. A new person to meet and talk with.” and “Who the hell is this guy? What’s his agenda? What’s he after?”
In our interactions with others, not so much friends and family, but professional relationships, we usually only engineer a meet up when we can benefit from contact with the other person.
There’s no harm in that. There can be an exchange of value.
The problem begins when you enter into the conversation.
Before sending the message above, you’ve done some research on the guy. You know he’s connected to xyz. You don’t have an inroad to that group, so meeting this guy is an opportunity to gain a contact and start to build a relationship.
That’s less okay.
For a true, sincere connection to occur, there cannot be an agenda. You cannot expect something from the other person. They can expect nothing from you.
Yes, think about what you want to talk about, think about how you can help the other person. They will do the same. But don’t engineer it.
Prepare, but don’t script. Allow serendipity to do it’s work.
The thoughts you have, the ideas you are holding? Share them. Without expectation of recompense. Give your opinion, give your input, listen, question, relate. But do it, not because it will get you closer to your intended goal, but because it is the only sincere way to connect with a human being.
Think of it as conversational ethics. The next time you pick up the phone, grab a coffee, or initiate a relationship, do it without an agenda.
Expect nothing from them, but give freely of yourself.