Do networking lessons happen everywhere? Absolutely, if you’re open to them. And when you are, it’s amazing what you can learn, who you can meet and connect with, and how pivotal and powerful the experience can be.
Take the art show I attended this past weekend. As my friend Lisa and I wandered through the show, perusing booth after booth filled with extraordinary paintings, photography, jewelry, glass, ceramics and other treasures, we found ourselves enjoying not only the items on display, but also our exchanges with the artists. Daniel Arredondo is one example. He’s a painter. He worked in the high tech industry for many years, and then retired to paint. His work is not only beautiful and thoughfully delicate, it’s also extremely metaphorical. Lisa and I took the time to listen to Daniel’s stories. Seemed like there was a fascinating tale or idea behind every piece he had on display. It was generous of him to open up and share them with us — a leap of faith and a form of vulnerability that can be very endearing.
And here’s the really cool thing: Daniel never tried to pitch us. He just loved having some company, answering our questions, and sharing his experiences and passion for his work.(Watch for more on that in a future post.)
One of Daniel’s paintings jumped out at me among the others. It showed a row of trees with a cutaway of the earth and the delicate root structure below the surface. The artist said people and relationships inspired this painting and others like it in a series. “People are like these trees,” he said. “We have our stories on the surface; the ones everyone can see. And then there’s everything that’s hidden beneath, sometimes extending far deeper than we could ever imagine– like roots of a tree.”
His story was a networking lesson. How often do we meet people, see only what’s on the surface, and never bother to dig deeper, ask curious questions, and invest in the richer conversations that reveal the roots of lives, dreams, ambitions, stories, and connections?
With that, I’m inspired to dig deeper into my connections and relationships; ask about the interesting stuff that’s under the surface. Not in a snoopy, intrusive way, but with a genuine and gentle curiosity that says, “I’m interested in you and your life. I want to hear your stories and learn about you and your experiences.”
Let me know if you are inspired to do this, too. And let’s see what happens.
Enjoyed the story and the artwork very much. I am so glad that the focus in networking seems to be shifting, ever so slowly, to relationships over selling. You, and other ethical networking advocates in this arena, are making a difference. Thank you!
Thanks for commenting, Kali’! In many circles – the more enlightened ones – I do see this shift and am so grateful for it. In others, it’s still a sell-and-be-sold world. Glad and humbled to play a part in changing this!
Love this story, and the lesson it provides Patti. I always learn from you.
Thank you SueAnn. And I from you!
I too enjoyed the artwork, as well as his thoughtful explanation and your graceful connecting of the dots. Even though, like you, I’m an introvert, I get so very energized by peoples’ stories. And there always is a story, we just have to take the time to find it, then relish it.
Thank you Julie. I guess that is what makes us good writers, too! The inquisitive journalistic mind.
Excellent post, Patti, and what a beautiful painting! I agree, it’s a fantastic message and reminder to look deeper. I believe you can learn something from every single person you meet. Thanks!
Thank you, Lorie, for looking deeper beyond the subject line and reading my post!
Excellent points! It goes back to the bottom line that people want to do business with people they like and connect with. As a chatty person, early in my career I had to learn to “zip it” and listen. Doing so, I make connections that are much deeper and more meaningful.
How great that you were able to share this example AND introduce us to a fabulous artist.
Glad you could relate to this Janki. Good for you for noting your extroverted tendencies — and managing them thoughtfully!
Beautiful post and beautiful painting, Patti. It’s such a delight to learn about another’s roots. Thank you for the reminder of the gems of living in this world!
Thank you, Cindy. You do an amazing job of this in your image consulting work – and you help people learn how to reveal their very best selves via their appearance! Super important!
Thank you, Patti, for your kind words. Your appreciation of others is such a beautiful trait!
Back to you, Cindy!