Does it matter if you’re ‘interesting’ when it comes to building professional relationships?
“An empty taxi drove up to 10 Downing Street,” joked Winston Churchill about the man who defeated him for prime minister in 1946, “and out of it stepped Clement Attlee.”
We’ve all been to networking events and been stuck in the corner with people who’ve arrived in empty taxis. But when you are investing time in attending networking events and industry conferences with a view to winning new business, do you know how you rank on a scale of being interesting? In essence, are you good company?
A starting point might be to consider what we mean by ‘interesting’. The dictionary definition speaks of ‘Arousing curiosity or interest; holding or catching the attention.’
And of course, we all know that what is interesting sauce for the goose is boring sauce for the gander.
If we have a general understanding and appreciation of what it takes to be interesting and what interesting people ‘look like’, the bigger question is does it matter if we are interesting in the context of building new business relationships? Can’t we just be excellent at what we do and let that speak for itself?
I was given an insight into the possible answer to that question during the delivery of a recent training workshop. I asked a group of 25 trainee professionals to describe the qualities of the professional of the future (I accept, not the qualities of an interesting person). Here is an abbreviated version of their list:
• Good communicator
• Good listener
These qualities don’t automatically make you interesting, but they would certainly help. People can be interesting in so many different ways, and it is impossible to build a mould.
However, in my view the ones who stand out are those who have broad knowledge from a variety of sources, can seek out points of commonality and tell relevant stories from experience.
Can you teach a person to be interesting, or at least memorable? I suspect not, but I believe you are more likely to engage and build rapport with prospective clients if you can mix positivity, brevity and emotional intelligence. That’s a heady mix worthy of any networking event.
And the taxi will depart fully occupied.