What is the one question to remember when meeting new people?

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you”
- Dale Carnegie -

It has been a while since I went to one of these big industry networking events. I used to hate going to these events. I was the one who stood near the food table (at the corner of it!). The one who looked lost. I wished for someone to come and speak with me. I wished this person would inspire me. I wished it would not be a person like me, a person whom no one else wanted to talk to.

“Why am I here?” was a question I kept asking myself. You know this lonely feeling, right? I remembered telling myself, “Liz, you are not good at it, why are you coming to these events?”

The funny thing is that most of the time, I did find someone to talk to, and then I would just talk non stop about myself. I talked about my business, my life, I was so afraid she would leave and I would be alone again, I just kept on talking. I never heard back from the people I talked to.

I remembered talking with Charlie about networking a couple of years ago. I told him it’s useless, “They never call back, it’s so embarrassing Charlie, I can’t do it anymore”.

Charlie looked at me and asked “What do you like to accomplish in life Liz?”

I thought for a second and said “I want to inspire people, I want to evoke their curiosity, I want everyone to wonder again, to explore, to imagine, to grow beyond their own self-imposed limitations”.

Charlie smiled and said “Excuse me for being harsh Liz, but how are you planning to do all this without going out and meeting different people? How will you inspire people without meeting them?”

Before I could answer, Charlie continued and said, “There’s one question you need to think about when meeting new people. If you genuinely try to get the answer to that question you will be able to connect with people and eventually fulfill your calling”.

“What is it? What is the question Charlie?”

Charlie took a sip from his hot chocolate and said “the question is – how I can help this person?”

“What??? What do you mean?”

Charlie smiled and said, “Before you go to any networking event, a party or social gathering, set yourself a goal to help 3 people, when meeting with people ask yourself how can I help this person? It will be easier for you to speak with people because all you do is finding ways to help them. You can not help people by talking about yourself. You can not help people by standing alone next to the food table. You will really need to converse, to ask questions, to listen, to be interested in the other person in order to find a way to help her”.

Charlie is a clever guy (He also likes when I tell him so…). He knew I believe that acts of goodness, acts of support, inspire people. He picked the right question for me.

Time to go, there are three new people, I am going to help tonight, they don’t know it yet, but I do!


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