One-to-One Conversations: Future Focus

Help them turn the rainbow into a bridge to their
pot of gold.

OK, be honest. You’ve got a dream, right? Maybe it’s a new house or a new car. Maybe travel in far-off lands. Perhaps you’d like to meet your soul-mate. Wouldn’t it be nice to find a genie who could make those wishes come true?

Wouldn’t it be cool to be that genie?

This is the third in my series on what to talk about at the one-to-one. You can check out the details for (“Interests” and “Networks“) first, if you want, but it isn’t necessary. We’re delving a little more deeply into the mnemonic that I came up with some time ago — INFER — which gives a general framework of concepts to ask your new (or even long-term) contact about so you can find ways to help them and thereby deepen and strengthen the relationship.

So, back to today’s idea: The future focus.

A friend of mine, Mike Wynn, is a great networker. He is always looking out for the benefit of others. He had a dream. He wanted to own a vacation home where he and his extended family could go to relax and have fun with each other. He wanted it so his son could have closer relationships with all the cousins and have fond memories of playing with them.

Unfortunately, vacation homes can be somewhat expensive.

He started sharing his dream with his network. Not long after that, a friend told him about another friend who wanted to sell their timeshare up north. It was for three weeks  in the summer and the place was large enough to allow the cousins to come and vacation. While it wasn’t exactly his dream, it accomplished the underlying reason he had that dream in the first place.

So, do you think he’s grateful to the person who made that connection for him? You bet. When you connect people to their long-term goals, they want to find ways to do the same in return.

The journey to your dreams starts with the bridge you built to theirs.

These long-term visions, though, can be deeply personal things, so tread lightly. You probably don’t want to ask them their lifelong goals at your first coffee — that would be creepy. Instead, tone it down a bit and ask things like: “So what are your plans for the upcoming holiday?”, “What sort of challenges do you think you’ll run into in your business in the upcoming year?”, or “Are you planning anything fun in the near future?” Whether they are goals they are trying to reach or obstacles they are trying to avoid, one of three things can happen:

  1. You can help immediately. You have knowledge that moves them forward. Maybe they are going on a trip to Italy and you can tell them about the little gelato shop you went to when you were there. Possibly you have a resource they could use — they need a projector for an upcoming presentation. Or maybe they need a strong back to help them move. Whatever the situation, you have immediately at hand what they need to succeed.
  2. You can connect them with what they need. Maybe you’ve never been to Greece, but your sister-in-law has. Make the introduction and you still get credit for helping them create a great vacation.
  3. You can’t help them right now either directly or indirectly. You can still keep a watch out for people or resources that bring them closer to their dreams. Even without that, though, just the fact that you’ve made yourself available as a confidant will draw them closer to you.
We often talk about the power of goals — dreams with a deadline, right? They give us a measurement of our success and a target for which to aim. They give our efforts meaning and focus. So now imagine what power is in helping someone to connect with those visions.

Do more than imagine it. Make it happen.

Photo by Jason Wickens

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About Greg Peters

Greg Peters, president and founder of The Reluctant Networker, LLC, is a business networking specialist. He works with trade associations on both the local and national level to create a culture of better connections and greater opportunity. Find out more at www.TheReluctantNetworker.com or gpeters@thereluctantnetworker.com.

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