Aren’t you just a little bit Curious?

Aren’t you just a little bit Curious?

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing”

Albert Einstein

We are curious creatures by nature. If we weren’t curious we wouldn’t investigate, learn and grow. Curiosity and fascination go hand in hand. Imagine wide eyes filled with wonder and fascination about all the amazing people, places and things on this planet. Being curious takes the attention away from ourselves and shifts it outwards. Developing curiosity is an excellent approach for introverted networkers.

Curiosity is a powerful thing. Curiosity can flip the attention from you to another person object or message. Energy flows outwards rather than inwards. Many highly intelligent people are terrified of networking due to simply putting too much pressure on themselves. Instead of being concerned with how we come across at a networking event what if we were simply curious about those we meet? Here are some proven ways to kickstart your curiosity.

Fake it until you make it
Learning to be curious is as much a lesson in presence and attention as it is curiosity. Challenge yourself to be fully present in every conversation, no matter what, and your curiosity quotient will soar. When we become fully present and give ourselves over to the conversation we hear things that we would normally miss. I came across a quote recently that said most people listen with intent to reply rather then the intent to understand. In today’s busy world, and after having millions of conversations, I have to agree. This was such a timely reminder that I have put monthly reminders into my calendar to be present and curious in every conversation!

Having trouble? fake it until it becomes a habit. pretend to be interested until you really do start to be intrigued about what drives others and what empowers them to do what they do.

Ask questions
Nobody will tell you their life story at the outset. bring out the story and you may uncover a side of this person you could never have imagined. Ask questions that showcase the other person and allow them to shine. Ask them about their role and what led them to that line of work. Ask them how they feel and think about a subject rather than how they are and what they did on the weekend.

Go deeper
Anyone who has a teenage child will understand the conversation destroying impact of mono-syllabic answers. The trick for them and also for unimaginitive responses in the networking sphere is to go deeper, investigate and probe for feelings rather than simple answers. Use the information you have gained in your initial questioning and take it further. Build a story about this person that will truly enable you to help them get to where they want to go. Who knows, you may meet someone in the future who could be the catalyst for the most incredible career opportunity of their lives. How would that make you feel?

Track the story
Keep in touch with those you meet and track the story you uncovered in your first meeting. This is not an invitation to stalk your new friend, rather a suggestion to record notes about your meetings to enable effective conversation starters later. You may not need to record reminders but if you have trouble remembering details then a quick memory jog of important notes may be all you need to make your last meeting feel like just yesterday.

Share the celebration
Enjoy your connections and enjoy congratulating them on their wins. Even something as simple as wishing happy birthday in a phone call can make your contact feel like you care. Enjoy your friendships and the unique contribution each person makes to your life, even if it is just a chat on the phone every now and again. Everyone is special and if you are truly curious about each person you meet then you will see that sooner than you think.

Is your network favour-ready?

Is your network favour-ready?

Life doesn’t always go according to plan. Sometimes we get to a point where we have to call in a favour. Whether it is for personal reasons or business reasons, we all need a helping hand from time to time.

It is at these times that the value of a strong and supportive network cannot be underestimated.

Think about the last time you had to ask for help. How did it feel? Who did you ask? Was it the person you have met a few times at an event? Or was it a family member or someone you have known for a while and feel very connected to?
Without exception I would guess that it was the latter. We all feel more comfortable asking for help from someone we have helped in the past or have a strong relationship with.

That help may be a business referral, new staff member, new job, supplier or any number of other things, or it could be help of a more personal nature. Whichever it is, creating strong networks is immensely valuable. It makes sense to nurture those connections with whom you feel a connection.

How do you do that? Here are some ideas:

1. Keep in touch and stand out from the tech clutter
There is no point building a connection with someone and then forgetting about them. Stay in touch with people you meet. Invite them to events, catch up for coffee, send them articles of interest and refer your contacts to others. Staying in touch with people and seeing them regularly is the best way to build and sustain the relationship. You cannot do that by sitting behind a computer screen. While you can use social media and email as additional ways to keep it touch, always remember technology’s not the only way. If your contact is geographically distant consider Skype or go back to snail mail once in a while.

2. Be of service with a mindset to match
What can you do for the people you know? Imagine a fire that radiates heat outwards and lights up everything around it as opposed to a block of dry ice that burns everything it touches. Create a mindset of generosity rather than competitiveness and your network will flourish.

3. Be reliable
This is pretty obvious: if you commit to doing something, always do it. Everyone knows there are things that come up and on rare occasions to prevent you from fulfilling your promises. If this happens just be upfront and honest and explain the situation. If you don’t think you can’t honour an obligation, don’t offer it in the first place.

4. Be a conduit
Think of your network as a pool of talent and you as the recruiter. Who can you refer? Who should meet? Who would get along well? Refer people generously and put groups together. Others will be grateful for the introduction and will feel comfortable doing the same. Don’t worry if you haven’t worked together just go with your instincts and refer those who you like and trust. Tell the person you are referring them to that you haven’t worked with them but like what you see, so it’s up to them to decide. Just make the introduction.

5. Follow up
People get busy. We’re all overwhelmed. Be prepared to be the driver of the relationship until it is solid. It is very easy to forget to catch up and many times it can be a very long time between coffees. Build catch-ups into your routine. If someone tells about a project they are working on, put it into your diary to follow up with them and see how it went. You will be reminded and they will be flattered you cared enough to follow up.

6. Don’t gossip
Another obvious one, but a rule that’s often ignored. Be very careful about with whom and how you discuss bad experiences. Feedback is one thing, gossip is another. Maintain your integrity. Always.

You never know when you will need to call in a favour but trust me, when you do, you will be forever grateful that you have a strong network. I was.

 

In Real Life (IRL)

In Real Life (IRL)

People are fundamentally social beings. We have lived and developed in societies and tend to seek relationships in our daily lives – we build families, friendships, business connections, and so on. For most of us, our connections form a core part of our daily lives and our identity. However, with the advent of social media, a lot of our connections don’t happen face-to-face anymore, but they occur through the screen of a device.

Often, our face-to-face connections disappear from our daily lives to be replaced with face-to-screen interaction. An important question to ask, then, is how does a lack of direct, actual connection hurt us? Let’s take a look.

Most of us don’t feel good when we are lonely. Loneliness is a highly negative experience, subjectively speaking. But social connection is not only satisfying, but also essential for our health, as studies show. Loneliness can, quite literally, kill us.

A study reviewed 148 studies that had over three hundred thousand participants in total. It found that participants with stronger social relationships had a 50% increase in their likelihood of survival, so people with weak social relationships were more likely to die sooner. This was true for people of different characteristics (Holt-Lunstad, Smith, & Layton, 2010 ). A lack of social connection, then, can make it more likely for people to die sooner.

Another study considered the impact of social connections throughout the different stages of a person’s life. A higher degree of social connection was associated with a lower risk of disease and dysregulation throughout all the life stages. A lack of social connection, on the other, hand, was consistently linked to very elevated risk in different life stages, like adolescence and old age. The impact of social isolation on health could be seen as significant as the impact of physical inactivity or diabetes (Yang et al., 2016). Just these two studies show how the lack of social connection can negatively impact our well-being.

But are face-to-face interactions significant? Can we make-do with just online communication? There is evidence to suggest that we can’t. A study considered depression in older adults and examined how face-to-face interaction and online interaction could predict depression. It was found that those adults who had interpersonal contact with friends and family more frequently were less likely to develop depression, with more contact being linked to less depression. Online communication did not have the same effect (Teo et al., 2015).

Online communication is not something to be demonized. It can be used effectively to support existing friendships and enhance a person’s well-being, as can happen with adolescents who usually use instant messaging and online communication to stay in touch with existing friends (Valkenburg & Peter, 2007). However, online communication can support an existing relationship, but can not replace face-to-face interactions. Another study found that face-to-face communication could inspire feelings of closeness online interaction did not have (Mallen, Day, & Green, 2003).

What does this mean? Firstly, we know that social connection is fundamental in our lives and that face-to-face interactions are an essential component of social connection. Without social connection, our health suffers, physically and mentally, increasing a risk of mortality. While some sources could say that online communication can enhance our face-to-face interactions and help us maintain our relationships and connections, online communication is not enough by itself to help us create meaningful connections with other people. Face-to-face interactions should still be at the core of our relationships. Online interactions can help nurture our relationships, but most of our connection should be based on interactions that happen in real life.


References

Holt-Lunstad, J., Smith, T. B., & Layton, J. B. (2010). Social relationships and mortality risk: A Meta-analytic review. PLoS Medicine, 7(7), e1000316. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000316

Mallen, M.J., Day, S.X., & Green, M.A. (2003). Online versus face-to-face conversation: An examination of relational and discourse variables. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training. 40(1-2), 155.

Teo, A., Choi, H., Andrea, S., Valenstein, M., Newsom, J., Dobscha, S., & Zivin, K. (2015). Does mode of contact with different types of social relationships predict depression in older adults? Evidence from a nationally representative survey. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society., 63(10), 2014–22. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26437566

Yang, Y. C., Boen, C., Gerken, K., Li, T., Schorpp, K., Harris, K. M., … 100872, B. (2016). Social relationships and physiological determinants of longevity across the human life span. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113(3), 578–583. doi:10.1073/pnas.1511085112

Valkenburg, P. M., & Peter, J. (2007). Online communication and adolescent well-being: Testing the stimulation versus the displacement hypothesis. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 12(4), 1169–1182. doi:10.1111/j.1083-6101.2007.00368.x