Recently, I went to a conference in Boston (I live in CT); and I met a business woman that made my day. She was from Ohio! I was born and raised in Ohio; so, I immediately started talking to her about the Buckeye state. Less than a minute into the conversation, we discovered we were both born in the same hospital. Wow! How crazy is that, a chance meeting at a conference in neither of the states that we live? It brightened both of our day because it was so bizarre but comforting that we had shared this “beginning of life” experience.
Well, based on that introduction, I’m sure you figured out that I enjoy talking to people and am certainly not shy about meeting new people. I am a big believer in face-to-face business events because you never know who you might meet; and, much like in our personal lives the best way to build strong relationships is to invest the time.
My husband uses a standard litmus test to decide if someone is worth the “investment”. It’s easy, if you meet someone and they start talking and talking; and the conversation ends and the other person has not once asked you one question about yourself, it’s not worth the time.
Relationships are reciprocal - It’s about sharing information that is mutually interesting and getting to know one another through the interesting information you share. Seems pretty obvious, right? The person who is not asking you any questions has no intention of having a reciprocal relationship. It’s a one way street for them. You have to be able to tell the difference; so, next, move on, period.
Meeting new and interesting people always helps me to get reinvigorated about a project, brighten my day, or just my outlook on life. But more importantly, I love to hear about what makes people I meet their own unique person…not just the work stuff; hence the Ohio conversation.
So, after we got a good laugh that we were born in the same hospital, we started talking about why we were at the conference. Our bond was formed and it was much easier to discuss honest objectives. We are now connected through LinkedIn and I’m sure that we both have shared that story with others by now. It’s at least a great conversation starter that I can use at my next conference. (I’m sure I can’t top that!)
While the conversation didn’t lead to a multi-million dollar project; the encounter brought an unbridled smile and determination to my day, allowing me to network with as many people as I could at the conference; and, to be open to any bizarre moment that might come my way through a chance meeting that just might make my day!
Sonya Ruff Jarvis, is the Managing Member of Jarvis Consultants and Founder of the eRetailer Summit. Sonya has extensive experience in creating original innovative solutions to overcome major business challenges. Sonya has spent most of her career visiting headquarters across global industries and has built strong business relationships across diverse brands.
Sonya has a M.B.A. in Marketing. She is married and has a daughter and they live in Fairfield County Connecticut.