I’m not great at the “get to know me” games that take place at some business network events. In fact, I’m pretty terrible at it. When I’m involved in conversations about items that, at best are surface topics, I struggle a little. It’s not because the others who are talking aren’t sincere, but the topic itself tends to be a little phony, so it is hard to be real in an fake situation.
“Ice breakers” as they are called become a quick way to make conversation right before you hand someone your business card. However, when you are leading people, always being in “business network” form becomes annoying to those around you. Most people are not used to taking the seven day weather forecast and turning that into a meaningful conversation about…well, anything. It’s fake, phony and not how you build relationships and lead.
For leaders, relationships are key to having people buy-in to who you are what you are are trying to accomplish. Whether it’s a small business, large corporation or church, people want to see and know the real “you.” If it means, not being great at answering “The Three Things I Would Change About Me,” then that’s probably ok. Instead of being great at annoying ice-breaker games, instead, be real by asking simple questions of people.
Questions like “How are you today” allow you to keep walking right on by as the person begins to answer. However, asking a more specific “Is there anything you need today” or “What can I do for you” (you have to stop moving, be still and look them in the eye) shows a deeper level of interest. Being known as a leader who spends time out of his or her office and engages with employees and people about items that interest “them”, is a welcoming and probably unusual occurrence.
So put away the games and the unnecessary efforts to get to know someone. Instead of the make-believe game, ask a real question about what you can do for the person. Not only will you become less annoying, your sincerity may begin to endure yourself to those who follow you.
Now go lead!