I recently met a local Portland politician for lunch whom I’ve respected for a long time. I went into the meeting planning on asking him about his political career and to get some tips on a few communication questions I had. Basically, I was planning on talking about him for an hour.
Then something incredible happened.
We sat down, he opened up his laptop, and proceeded to take notes while asking me engaging question after engaging question about my work, my family, my interests, and more. When it was all said and done, he hit me over the head with one more: “How can I help you?”
He’s a politician, but his interest in me wasn’t disingenuous. He wasn’t trying to schmooze me. I have no money to give him, no political connections of any value. But for 45 minutes he made me feel important.
The result? I will vote for him in every possible scenario I can. I will tell my friends to vote for him. I will attend his events. I will support his initiatives. I will put up a yard sign. I will put up two yard signs.
Seth Godin calls this the Connection Economy
- “Friends bring us more friends. A reputation brings us a chance to build a better reputation. Access to information encourages us to seek ever more information. The connections in our life multiply and increase in value.”
Thriving in the connection economy is based on one important principle:
Getting people to like you.
People who like you will support your ideas, buy your product, hire your services, introduce you to their friends, and go out of their way to make your life better.
If you’re an extrovert, getting people to like you is simple:
Stop talking so much.
No seriously. Stop it.
I know a lot of people who, out of nervousness or excitement think the best way to engage people is to talk them into utter submission. As if their endless words, jokes and anecdotes infused with Red Bull and hooked up to a V8 engine will fast-track them into the Connection Economy.
What so many don’t realize is that the secret to building relationships isn’t in the words you say, but in the questions you ask.
If you’re an introvert, the same truth applies. Don’t change who you are, just be more strategic in how you foster dialogue.
Asking the right questions is an art form and it has a name: Social Jiu-Jitsu
Popularized in an article by Jeff Haden, he breaks down this scenario:
- You meet someone. You talk for 15 minutes. You walk away thinking, “Wow, we just had a great conversation. She is awesome.”
Then, when you think about it later, you realize you didn’t learn a thing about the other person.
Remarkably likeable people are masters at Social Jiu-Jitsu, the ancient art of getting you to talk about yourself without you ever knowing it happened.
Social Jiu-Jitsu masters use their interest, their politeness, and their social graces to cast an immediate spell on you.
And you like them for it.
Social Jiu-Jitsu is easy. Just ask the right questions.
As soon as you learn a little about someone, ask how they did it. Or why they did it. Or what they liked about it, or what they learned from it, or what you should do if you’re in a similar situation.
Before our lunch order had even arrived, my politician friend Social Jui-Jitsu’d me into submission. And I love him for it.
Here’s a tip: From here on out, in every meeting or meaningful conversation you have, work to try and get the other person to stop and say, “Hmm, that’s a really good question.” That’s the goal. If you’ve gotten them to say that, you’ve won.
Becoming a remarkably likable person in the Connection Economy is a crucial step to building the network you need to make a real impact in the world.
“Be interesting, be enthusiastic, and don’t talk too much.” – Norman Vincent Peale