I want to talk about relationship building this week. Specfically as it pertains to building your career or your business. Even more specifically, I want to talk today about asking the right questions when you are talking with people.
About two and a half years ago I had started contemplating a move out of corporate America and into something else in my career. Before I get into the story, I want to make it clear that it's not about me, it's about having opportunities and not doing anything about it. So as I am contemplating a move, a good friend of mine hears that I am thinking about moving on from a 10 year career and starts talking to me about partnering with him in business.
That sounds good right? It was and is. Where I went wrong is that my friend had been successful with his business practice for about 5 years before we started talking, he was driving a Bentley and the funny thing about it is not once did I ask him what he was doing and have a meaningful conversation about his business.
We lived in different cities and didn't talk much except for when I was in town. Even when we got together, we didn't talk about business. As it turns out, after talking with him, some of the things that he was working on were in direct alignment with things that I loved doing and I had no idea. It was like my friend lived this life that I was clueless about. Some of this had to do with the fact that I didn't want to act weird about his success. I didn't want to overemphasize the money. When you have friends who have high levels of success, friendships can end in a hurry if not managed correctly on all sides. You have to deal with different goals, envy, resentment etc. I wanted to be careful to keep things as similar as possible.
My point of the story is this, I knew someone for years who had success and not once did I think to ask that person what they were up to and open up specific dialogue about his business and success. What a missed opportunity! The opportunity was not about the money but the utilization of my skills and doing more meaningful work. If only I had asked the right questions or any questions for that matter, I would have embarked much sooner on a path that would have led me to utilizing my talents more fully and at an ealier date.
When you are engaged in conversation by conscious of the types of questions that you are asking that person. Don't wait to have meaningful conversations with people that you know and admire. Who are the people in your life that you should be having meaningful conversations with and aren't? It could be a friend, family member, coworker, boss, a person you admire that works in the same industry. There are tons of great conversations out there waiting to happen and these conversations could change your life forever.
Who are you not talking with that you should be? What success have you had with asking meaningful questions in the past?