Skip the small talk.
September 22, 2022, Dina Marie Weineck
My best friend just started traveling perpetually. I’m SO excited for this chapter of her life – man, she’s leaning ALL INTO who is wants to BE in this life. She’s unapologetic about it. Every time she tells me about some new development in her mind and life, my jaw drops, my soul gives a Tinker Bell-Esque standing ovation, and my heart smiles. This woman is designing her life, taking full and self-loving control of it. It’s fucking inspiring. And the greatest service anyone can do to the world.
(Wondering how she’s doing it? How I’m doing it? We’re BEING. It’s a journey from Doing to Being anyone can do, and this might be the perfect start for you.)
A few months ago, as my best friend was giving up her location-bound life in Los Angeles, she called me and proclaimed: “You’ve got to teach me how to make friends when you’re on the road all the time. You are SO good at it – look at all your friends in Lisbon!”
My answer was simple: “You skip over the small talk and lean in.”
Here is the thing:
Had she asked me how I create business while on the road, my answer would have been the same: skip over the small talk and lean in.
Had she asked me how I got clients and speaking engagements booked during covid and by solely networking online, my answer would have been the same: skip over the small talk and lean in.
Had she asked me how I got to the point where potential clients reach out to ME, asking if I have capacity without me lifting a finger, my answer would have been the same: skip over the small talk and lean in.
Had she asked me how come that 80% of my clients renew their contract with me like it’s not even a question, my answer would have been the same: skip over the small talk and lean in.
Had she asked me about dating advice…just kidding, she’s doing A-OKAY in that department.
Thing is, we all have so many opportunities day in and day out to establish a really meaningful connection with another soul.
Be it in the supermarket, in a Facebook group, or with a long-lost friend we’re reconnecting with. And when we do lean in, relationships improve. And better relationships lead to more meaningful friendships, romantic engagements, business relationships, fundraising results, higher renewal and referral rates, and more connections all around. And yes, they do lead to more money in the bank.
But only if you truly connect for the sole purpose of connecting.
I’ve found that when my clients apply the following principles, their fundraising goals are being exceeded, their client roasters practically fill themselves, their anxiety to “have to bring in money” goes way down, and they have more time to do the things they want to do outside the business or job and more money to spend on these things, too.
You, too deserve to know and apply these principles. So, here they are:
Care about people, not their money
When you engage folks in a conversation because they could be a client or donor or boss, they smell it. And it doesn’t smell good. Care about them for caring’s sake only. This builds genuine rapport, and I promise it’s fun.
That’s the “skip the small talk” part. No need to talk about the humid weather or overcooked salmon at a party. That’s stating the obvious.
Instead, ask the person next to you what made them choose to come to the party – if this is their first time – what their most peculiar conversation has been so far at the party. And reply – don’t go interviewing the other person. Eventually, you can go a little deeper: What’s the most exciting thing about what you do in life right now? What are you up to in life? Etc.
Listen. Be interested, not interesting.
As you’re asking questions, yes you’ll want to reply. But first, you’ll want to LISTEN for the sake of listening. Most people listen for the sake of responding. When you do the latter, it’s all about you and your ego getting to be in the spotlight. Contrary to popular verdict, showing interest is so much more memorable and interesting than trying to BE interesting. By listening intently, you’ll find out so much more about the other person.
(if only more people took this advice to heart when it comes to dating…a date trying to be impressive on a first date is SUCH a turn off)
Instead of asking for help, offer help.
When we know what makes someone tick, we can offer help. A ride, an introduction, a book recommendation, a comp ticket to your next concert. Or simply to keep in touch. Especially, when it comes to fundraising and growing a business, the very nature of support is reciprocal – what we need, we’ve got to give. And what we receive, we’ve got to be willing to accept.
As one of my mentors always says, fundraising is merely ‘the exchange of resources.’ The operative word being ‘exchange.’ Not acquisition.
So often, we try to frantically expand our network, adding names to our LinkedIn and followers to our Instagram. Chances are, however, that you already know a lot of interesting people – and folks that will, over time, result in business, whether that’s directly or indirectly. Who do you know already? Who did you once know? Former bosses, colleagues, your community from theatre or a college organization you were a part of, etc.
This summer, I set a challenge to make one daily re-connection for a full month – the results were astonishing:
It was fun. It led to tons of resources handed to me for my trip to Bali, and, yes, it did result in more MONEY in the bank. That money came in in unexpected, unplanned, super fun, and aligned ways.
I made a list of all the things I did which you can find here. Feel free to replicate everything on that list, but beware: if you do this to get money, you’ll burn bridges. Instead, I invite you to do this to reconnect, sending heart-felt emails, really slowing down to be present for the connection. Don’t do it for business. Do it to connect.
Dear reader! I get sooooo excited just knowing that this will yield so much joy and alignment for you!! AHHH. <3 <3 <3
And finally, lean in, not out
At a conference over the summer, a colleague referred to me as “such a wonderful networker”. And I am a strong networker. Meaning, I leave a party with meaningful connections, more resources at my hands, things to ponder on, and people to call on…all things that lead to why you’re still reading: jobs, clients, donors, money.
Two main steps to follow here: 1) Don’t drink alcohol when you’re networking. 2) Quality over quantity. I’d rather spend 30 minutes in meaningful conversation with one person, creating a bubble of presence and connection amidst a buzzing room, than hustling around to collect business cards.
I collect connections, not business cards. I lean in, not out.
As for my best friend, she’s living it UP in Columbia, connecting with herself FIRST, with others second. She’s skipping the small talk both with herself and, with others.
We’re booking our stay in Brazil for next year and I’m practically packed and ready to go – Love you SOO much, girl!
Now go connect, y’all!