Don’t let a First Impression sidetrack a potential connection

Networking is a constant activity in my world and my recent trip to India provided many opportunities to network with individuals and companies I would not normally have a chance to meet with.  I had the chance to meet with people from countries such as Dubai, Italy, Australia, Malaysia and of course India during my visit.  One such encounter has stuck in my mind since I returned over two weeks ago and I plan to learn as much from this as I possibly can.  I’ll share it with you also.

While traveling abroad provides many opportunities to meet with others, it can also be more than a little taxing on the body and the mind.  While in India I slept an average of four to five hours per day and not all of those were in the typically night time hours where I was.  As a result of this amended sleeping schedule there were times in the day when I might be a little dull.

One of the evenings while in Mumbai I was having dinner with a few of my fellow speaker colleagues and a local leader in the world of higher education.  It was the end of a busy day and I was a little worn out.  Our host was a high-energy individual who had enough energy for all of us.  Toward the end of our dinner engagement he looked at me and said “Dan, it has been a pleasure talking with you even though you are a little benign.”  Benign?  I have been called many things in my life, but that was a first.

If my host had taken into account that there were few gaps in the conversation with with to interject a thought, coupled with the fact that all of us other than him were in completely different time zones he might have phrased his comment in a different manner.

What did I learn from this exchange?  I learned the following:

  • When talking with others, always allow time for others to speak
  • When meeting with a group, even though you may have overwhelming interest in one member of the group, do not let that monopolize the conversation
  • Be careful to use words when describing others that may be taken in a negative manner
  • Consider the situation before passing judgment on another’s behaviors

I have had many a good laugh with my other colleagues when we talk about this dinner conversation.  If anything, I am probably the least “benign” person you will encounter.  Circumstances dictated that I play a background role in this case.

Networking with others, especially with those from other cultures, can provide a great platform to learn and grow.  Be careful to use words or make assumptions that may be misunderstood by others in the group.