Practicing Connecting with Powerful and Influential People
I recently watched a speech given at Aweseomeness fest in 2013 by Michael Ellsberg, author of The Education of Millionaires, columnist for Forbes, and entrepreneurship writer. Ellsberg’s speech, called “How to Connect with Powerful and Influential People” was fantastic and I absolutely recommend it. Often in the area of business it seems like successful people don’t want to share too much information about what contributes to their success. If I share information, there will be more competition and less success to go around. However, Ellsberg’s speech not only is immediately applicable and can contribute to every successful maneuver in your life here on out, but the most wonderful part about this speech is that the more people know about the method here, the more successful we all can be.
Here’s what I got out of it:
First, go ahead and watch the speech and draw your own conclusion, but come back and I’ll tell you what I got out of it.
Ellsberg’s speech highlights a very special concept that we all can make use of when interacting with people in business-related conversations, but really, and ideally, should be applied in every situation. That concept which Michael highlights is an attitude of giving.
His method is to enter a conversation not seeking to take from people – but to seek to give something to them. Not only is it far more ethical, but it’s far more effective. Entering a conversation with a mindset of taking is one sided and it highly unlikely to entice anyone to help you. But a mindset of giving is attractive. Entering a conversation and wanting to find a way to give something valuable to someone is at least helpful to them, and at most, makes them want to do something in return, create a valuable relationship that will be incredibly useful to the both of you, and open doors to even more relationships and resources in the future.
How cool is that?
The day after I saw Ellsburg’s speech I was sitting in a local cafe doing some work on my laptop and I overheard a man sitting at a table next to me talking who happened to be the owner of the cafe. I thought to myself how it would be so simple and beneficial for me to start a conversation with this guy. But initially the way my mind naturally bent was to how I could get him to do something for me. Then I gravitated toward thinking how impossible it would be for some Joe Schmoe to ask something of the owner of a business outright.
But I quickly caught myself. I don’t care about what this guy can give me. That should be the farthest thing from my mind. How selfish. My goal is just a conversation. Maybe I can offer him something. If anything, I’ll certainly gain insight into the life of an entrepreneur.
Well, I talked to him, following Michael Ellsberg’s method, merely involved in our conversation and sincerely interested in what the man was telling me. It turns out he owned multiple industrial businesses all over the state and in other states as well. He’s also obviously connected with many more people as influential and more influential than himself.
He asked me what I do and I explained some of my skills. He said he son was in school for some of the same things. Aha, I thought! I can offer my advice or help for his son! In return maybe he can connect me with someone he knows who needs some help with something.
Now my relationship with him may go nowhere at all. Or it could lead to some value in the future. In this particular situation, I doubt it’ll actually go anywhere but I suppose we’ll see!
If nothing else, it was an excellent proof that the method works. To validate that for myself so soon after thinking about this change of heart in approaching conversation was very interesting. I’ll definitely continue to practice connecting with many more people that I meet and if they turn out to be powerful and influential or not, I make a valuable connection with another person that improves both of us.