I was at a lunch last week sponsored by an engineering firm, and unlucky me happen to sit with someone who works in business development. It was the same old conversation I’ve had with this person many times over. It starts with the standard “how’s business?” and “been playing any golf recently?” line of questioning, then moves into “great weather we are having…” This doesn’t do much toward building a relationship, I say.
I’m certainly not against business development folks, but I do think it would be more effective to build a real a relationship instead of just ice-skating on the surface. In other words, ditch the small talk.
To me, there is no more sure path to preventing a real connection than by just sticking to small talk. Sure, these questions and conversations are fine, but just in the beginning when you have never met the person before, and then only for a minute or two. If the same conversation is repeated through multiple connections, you sound like you are speaking like a robot, or are on automatic pilot.
Folks that know how to do it create a real connection, finding depth in a short period of time and showing genuine interest. In my case, this person should’ve known a little bit about my children, been able to ask real questions and relate.
From my perspective, business relationships should never be paint by numbers.