The other day I sat down with someone and we had a really great conversation about good and bad conversations. As we were digging into this topic, I realized what is so important to me in terms of a solid meeting with someone and it is something that harkens back to my childhood:
Anyone who has had a brother, sister, or best friend has had to deal with the concept of sharing as a child. You get a box of crackers and there's only one left, you are asked to share that box with the other person. This means less food, but it also means that you get to enjoy the food together. The main lesson that you learn as a child is that if you take everything for yourself you'll probably end up with an angry friend and a stomach ache. The same principals can be applied to a good conversation.
When you sit down with someone, imagine you have a single box of crackers in front of you. That box is like time. Your 30 minutes to 1 hour is the time that you have and there are two ways that you can go about spending it:
You can hog the box of crackers (talk about yourself, pitch your services, try to sell someone and ignore everything they have to say) and end up with a stomach ache (the person doesn't ever call back).
You can share the box of crackers (ask the other person what they do and what they are passionate about, engage and ask questions to better understand how you can help, and provide just enough of your story for them to reciprocate) and end up with both of you feeling full (wanting to see each other again and work together).
So the next time that you are out at a meeting, take a second to check in with yourself about how you are spending that time. Are you sharing?Or do you have a face full of crackers?