May 2 2010
Curiosity is a vital, risk free networking tool.
by guest Contributor Susan Brown
(Chapter excerpted from the book “42 Rules of Effective Connections”)
I grant you that being curious can have dangerous side effects. You have probably heard the phrase “curiosity killed the cat” and read about the exploits of Curious George the famous monkey whose extreme inquisitiveness spawned mayhem and mishap. However, I assure you that curiosity is a vital, risk free networking tool.
I love trying to discover people’s hidden passions. I once asked a woman at a Joy of Connecting meeting what she loved to do but was not doing. When she said teaching I knew I had found a co-facilitator for one of my workshops for not only was she a knowledge expert in her field but she had a passion waiting to be tapped. That single response yielded a great return on my investment of one curious question.
I am also really curious about people’s values. At a networking luncheon I found myself next to a woman who had just reached the upper echelons of Mary Kay Cosmetics and had the coveted pink car to prove it. I have to admit that I initially thought that we would have very little to talk about as our companies, coaching and cosmetics, seemed worlds apart. But then, thankfully, my curiosity about her success kicked in: “What do you do that makes you so successful?”
She perked up and told me that her success was due to her persistency, passion and practice. Those memorable answers came straight from her heart revealing her values. By finding out what really “drives” her success, I was rewarded with a deeper connection, a great success story and several success qualities to integrate into my Boot Camps for Success.
1. Eager to learn or know; inquisitive.
The nosy neighbor who may be shunned for being too “eager to learn or know” would be welcomed for this “virtuous” trait at a networking event. Elias Baumgarten in Curiosity as a Moral Virtue says:
Curiosity is especially important in deepening one’s care and concern for another person because even in a close relationship, much that one needs to know and understand about another person in order to care deeply will not be apparent without active seeking.
(Excerpt from essay published in International Journal of Applied Philosophy, Fall 2001)
How can you use your curiosity to develop more interesting and deeper relationships?
It’s perfectly fine to start with the usual kinds of questions we all ask:
What do you do?
How long have you been in business?
How did you get started?
Who are your clients?
After one or two of these questions, shift into the land of curiosity where the treasures are hiding. I have found it much easier to connect with and care for people when they answer questions about their values, dreams, desires, passions or challenges:
What has been your greatest job challenge? How did you overcome it?
What do you like best about what you do?
To what do you attribute your success?
What do you do in your job that gives you the most energy?
What are you hoping to get out of this event (networking, conference, class)?
Don’t be afraid to show your care by asking curious, thoughtful questions that stimulate meaningful conversations. You will be rewarded by responses that are like puzzle pieces waiting to be connected to reveal more of the real, whole person.
If you are willing to go confidently into uncharted territories with a detective mindset and a caring attitude you will enhance your connections. I guarantee that by exercising a curious mind not only will you survive (unlike the poor cat) but your relationships will thrive.
Susan Brown is a certified coach, consultant and founder of Impact Coaching. She works with highly motivated individuals to create high performance work environments where professional and personal excellence are the norm. Reach her at: www.impactcoaching-empower.com
“42 Rules of Effective Connections” is available at 42 Rules [ http://42rules.com/bonnierossparker/books/], Happy About [ http://www.happyabout.com/42rules/effectiveconnections.php], Amazon [ http://www.amazon.com/42-Rules-Effective-Connections-Successful/dp/1607730464 ] and other fine retailers.