How can you always figure out what I needed and wanted? That is a comment I hear often from my family. My niece was born and grew up while I lived in another country and to this day, more than fifteen years later, she still says my long distance gifts are spot on.
Knowing what someone else will find useful requires a modicum of observation skills. It means taking the time to stand back from the other and see him/her as part of the canvas that is their context.
In our haste to get close sometimes we may be too close to see and all we see is us watching. While it's also about you as the one making the gesture as a form of gift -- material or not -- mostly it's about the other.
It starts with being centered. This is the second installment of the new series I called connection kata after the honored tradition of Karate-dō, a martial art for the development of character through training.
I'm sure you have noticed -- when you're relaxed, at peace with yourself, confident, emotionally neutral, loose, and free-floating, you are also this way in the world. What a gift that is to everyone.
Learning to observe and notice what others may need and want begins with self-awareness -- putting yourself in their shoes.
We communicate a lot with our presence alone. Whether on the phone, by email, social networking tool, or face-to-face, the stance we have speaks volumes about us.
Good dynamics when we enter conversations stem from remaining balanced in our core -- values and philosophy -- expressing good coordination of movement -- integrity as in keeping your promises and making meaning -- while remaining open to the same from others -- receptivity and learning.
Having good chemistry with someone also means there is balance in the conversation -- we feel we make an equal amount of gestures towards the other throughout. The consideration of who gives to whom is secondary when the emphasis is in meeting in a space in between.
What is the energy we carry with us? Is that a gift to the other?
Clearly you have incomplete information about the people you meet, especially online, and you're not going to solve problems you may not know about just yet. So you start small and then build from there. The gift, or gesture, speaks as much to your contact as it does to your personal brand. Let me give you a quick example.
While networking with peers and local professional leaders I met with a senior level marketer at his new office -- he had been in the job for short few months and was quite enthusiastic about the company and its offerings. As those conversations go, we exchanged information about resources, people, and places to better our mutual opportunities.
I followed up with a thank you note the next day that included a set of coasters. I could have easily sent links to papers and studies we had discussed.
Would he have had the time to read them? Would he have felt overwhelmed by too much information, especially since he was still new on the job? At that stage we did not know each other at all; I could have also sent a different message by assuming he had not found and used that same research.
During my visit, he offered me a glass of water and then a pad to put under the glass as not to put a ring on his nice wood desk. The set of coasters was appropriate to satisfy an immediate practical need and simple enough to send. That's where the opportunity was, with no strings attached. As it turns out, he was thrilled by the gesture.
Last holiday season at my (former) company we arranged a customer gift that was designed to help our customers succeed while at the same time give to the greater community. To sell it internally, I had to wrap it around a company-sponsored piece. Guess which part of the gift resulted in connections? Read more about the gesture here and the results here.
What do you communicate with a gift or gesture? Let others teach you what they need and want and keep observing how you enter the conversation and you'll be well on your way to connections. I have tons of examples, yet I would love to feature your questions. If you have a situation you'd like to inquire about, submit it as a comment here.
Next appointment we will talk about sustaining over time the connections sparked through a gesture.