Today’s post offers one very simple lesson, for which I can thank my dog, Maggie. She’s my 13 year old Goldendoodle – part poodle, part golden retriever. (She will insist she is part human as well).) Maggie has been a really wonderful animal companion all these years: funny, loving, wise, patient, expressive, intelligent, enthusiastic, and inquisitive. All wonderful traits that I aspire to daily.
But here’s something she does that I see the very best networkers and conversationalists do: she always brings something to me or to my guests when they come in the door. It could be a toy, a sock she’s stolen from the laundry hamper, or even a washcloth she’s grabbed impulsively off the counter. (Okay, those last two are a bit gross and you could say she’s a pretty ill-behaved dog to be such a sock or washcloth thief. Whatever.) Despite her flaws, I see her desire to offer up something not just as an indicator of her retriever heritage, but as a desire to welcome, to please, and to contribute.
You might ask yourself if you do something similar. (No, I don’t mean bringing a toy, sock or washcloth to a social gathering, networking event, coffee meeting, or lunch. I’m talking metaphorically here. Indulge me.) When you are out and about, are you making an effort to bring something to the party?
What do I mean by “something?” How about a few good conversation-starting questions? (Don’t say you can’t think of any. Just do a quick online search for “conversation starting questions.” You’ll find hundreds of ideas. ) Could you share some free samples of what your business offers? Or what about an offer to buy lunch or coffee in exchange for some advice you’re seeking? Could you offer a sincere listening ear? Or even just a funny story or an upbeat attitude?
I’ve attended several networking events in the last few weeks and I’ve noticed that some attendees are very good at this. Others, not so much. Which do you want to be?
Your assignment for the week: Think of what you bring (or could bring) to any setting where there are other people. What is your offering that will make you memorable and a warm and welcoming presence to those you meet and talk to? Think about it, journal if you like, talk about it with your friends or colleagues. I’d love to hear what you come up with. Or I can work with you or your team to offer up lots of ideas
Some cool news from my world: I’m so excited! My good friend Amy Hufford with Stellar Communications is helping me develop a brand new website. This is more than overdue. She’s known me for so long (30 years, I think) that the process has been both fun and effortless. She knows me better than I know myself, just like my photographer, Korey Howell. I feel so blessed to work with them both. (Ah, the sweet benefits of long-lasting friendships and associations!) Stay tuned!
I had a most wonderful dog who always brought a gift to a person she was meeting for the first time. After the first visit she didn’t bring anything – as if to say “We’re friends now!”
However, we/she had one special friend and when she heard his car come up the driveway she would run to find her newest toy and greet him with it. It amazed me how clear she was and what distinctions she could make.
I can’t think of anything I could bring except myself. Would be interested to hear some thoughts.
Great story, Susan. I bet you miss this dog a lot! So smart to understand context and different situations and people. Bringing yourself to any gathering or conversation is always enough – IF you are genuinely interested in others and have ways to draw them out and make them feel good in your presence (as our mutual friend Jan has taught us). Interesting conversation questions are a great start. Or a good story. (I loved the one you share here about your do.) The willingness to listen or offer support is always a generous act. I have a friend who, wherever she goes, hands out little cards with inspiring messages on them. Kind of like fortune cookies. One of these little cards tacked up on my bulletin board. Keeping this concept of “bringing something” in mind, you’ll come up with ways that are right for you. If you still need inspiration, give me a call!
I absolutely love this article! I read it this morning and I’ve been thinking about it all day. Please give Maggie a few belly scratches as a token of my appreciation!
Hey, thanks, Laura! What a sweet message. Maggie is about to get a good belly scratch – she loves them!
Such perfect timing Patti! I’m off to a social event tonight where I know the people but not very personally. I hate large groups and I hate small talk so I’m kinda dreading it in some way, but your post today inspired me to go equipped with some conversation starters and to bring “something” with me. Thank you!
This is great, Carla! I am confident you can apply your “inner journalist” and bring along some questions that are far more interesting than the usual boring “How are you’s?” and “What do you do’s?” Looking forward to how you’re going to raise eyebrows (in a good way) and become the Most Interesting Gal in the room! I like to ask what people are reading or watching or listening to, how they ended up where they are now. And if I do ask what the do for a living, I follow up with “Do you love it? Why or why not? And what could be next?” Good luck!!
Thank you, Patti! I love the connection you made between Maggie’s generous spirit and how we show up at networking events. I think of my beloved Winkie and how she greets everyone with a big tail wag and her undivided attention. While a “tail wag” isn’t appropriate (ha! ha!), I can definitely be fully present and give my undivided attention to each person I meet.
Hi Dianna! Winkie is an incredible hospitality ambassador! And you, like Wink, are so good at giving people your undivided attention. That’s such an important and valuable gift that most people aren’t able or willing to offer. Thanks for the comment!
Can I just say how grateful I am to have worked with you on this most recent redesign of your website? You are one of the most appreciative and easy to work with clients I have known. It’s not work when it feels like we are in partnership and conversation. Thank you for bringing your ideas and enthusiasm to this project!
Thank YOU, Amy! You’ve done a beyond-wonderful job!