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As a business owner, one of the most powerful resources you can build is a network. The stronger your relationships with people around you, both inside and outside your field, the more opportunities you will have.
Life becomes really powerful when you understand this concept. Connections enable you to get anywhere in business. You cannot navigate the world alone, and the stronger your network of relationships, the easier life will become. They are your greatest leverage.
When you meet someone new, there are two possible reasons: you need them to change your life, or they need you to change theirs. Those changes can be big or small, but they are always important. Every interaction has the potential to have a lasting impact on you or them. So when it comes to relationship building, it’s important to stay curious about the other person to determine how you can help each other. Then be as generous as you can with your time, resources, and knowledge.
The benefits you get as a result of these efforts aren’t immediately obvious, but believe me, they’ll pay off in different ways – maybe soon, maybe sometime in the more distant future. So mentor generously and give generously. Be curious about people… listen for them – anything will make people remember you and say positive things about you.
Whether building relationships comes naturally or not, just about anyone could learn to do better. One trick to figuring out how to help each other is to ask thoughtful questions. These are the foundation of communication and are the method by which you control a conversation and build connections.
If you’re meeting someone new, here are a few things to keep in mind to ask excellent questions.
1. Show care to build trust
To establish any kind of connection, trust is needed. You can’t have open communication without a certain level, and the key to building trust quickly is expressing caring. That often means small talk, which plays an important role in relationship building: it gives us a secure base to learn about each other and helps determine whether we want to continue a conversation.
Communication, of course, requires an exchange of information, and it is important to do this with relative equal sensitivity and participation. For example, giving away something very personal too early can make an interlocutor feel uncomfortable. This can also be applied the other way around: someone may reveal something personal early on to project vulnerability. Be careful when this happens, because without laying the foundation for building trust, connections built too quickly will fall apart.
Instead, find points you have in common and offer information that is personal but not overly revealing. It’s also important to express that you care about the other person’s comfort by not judging.
Related: If you want your customers to really value you, you need to be their trusted advisor. Here’s how.
2. Learn what people care about and what gets in their way
After you build trust, things can start to deepen. At this point, the best questions help identify what’s important to someone, including what their pain points or issues are. Ask about their goals, plans, and maybe (to some extent) their personal lives. Pay Attention to Displayed Energy: What Are They Focusing On? What makes their eyes light up or what do they talk about for a long time? Paying attention to verbal cues and body language makes it easier to get the gist.
Once you’ve identified what’s important to someone and the problem they need to solve, you’ll begin to see areas where you might be able to help, or how they can help you. In this process, remember to offer something in return, and without drawing the conversation too much to yourself. For example, what you can provide might just be information and/or put them in touch with someone in your network.
Related: How to meet customers at their pain points
3. Embrace curiosity
There is always something to learn from each person, and you get the most out of every interaction simply by being curious. This requires a sense of humility, but by focusing on others instead of yourself, you’ll build connections faster and learn more than you thought possible.
4. Keep asking questions, even if you think you know the answers
Oddly enough, people who think they have all the information they need are often the ones who know the least. By continually asking questions, even when you think you know the answers, you delve deeper into topics and find underlying motivations, issues, and other factors that come into play in any situation. The takeaways come up with solutions you would otherwise never have thought of.
Learning what motivates someone gives you the unique power to more easily steer a conversation. While questions can focus the conversation on your partner, they also put you in the driver’s seat — giving you a chance to steer the topics.
Related: The 4 keys to asking better questions
5. Provide information and help generously
Asking good questions helps you internalize the problems, interests, and motivations of those around you, but it doesn’t stop there. Offer help where you can and think of ways to connect a new contact with other people in your network. Doing this consistently – being open, curious and generous – will make you known as a helpful and friendly person and people to remind That.