I’m a big believer in the power of a strong professional network. So, I’m always keeping my eyes peeled for tips to be better at building more meaningful connections.
There’s tons of great advice out there (just take this article, for instance). But, I recently stumbled upon one suggestion that really resonated with me.
In an article for First Round Review, Chris Fralic, a highly successful venture capitalist (and, if I do say so myself, an expert relationship builder), shares some networking advice.
The article is packed full of helpful tips, but there was one point in particular that stood out to me. It was this:
End every meeting or conversation with the feeling and optimism you’d like to have at the start of your next conversation with the person.
The world is small—especially within your specific industry or profession. “Assume you’re going to run into everyone again—it usually happens either by plan or happenstance,” says Fralic in the piece, “There are no closed connections.”
So, what exactly does it mean to leave a conversation with a sense of optimism?
Well, whenever you end an interaction, do so with the knowledge that you very well might cross paths with this person at some point in the future.
When they notice you across the room at an industry function a few months from now or run into you in the grocery store on a random Saturday afternoon? You want them to be excited to see you again—rather than dreading your conversation or ducking between the produce aisles in a futile attempt to avoid you.
“If you envision running into this person again and how you want that to go, it’ll undoubtedly influence how you navigate a present conversation—usually for the better,” Fralic explains.
With that in mind, I can already think of numerous interactions I wish I could turn back the clock on and redo.
Rather than complaining to a new acquaintance about the stuffy room at that networking event, I wish I would’ve sucked it up and engaged in a more productive conversation about his career. Instead of venting endlessly about a difficult project to an industry peer, I would’ve been better off briefly mentioning my frustrations and then asking what she was working on.
Rest assured, leaving a conversation with a sense of optimism doesn’t necessarily mean you can never air your grievances—we all have our off days, and it’s always best to be authentic.
However, it all comes back to making your best effort to leave a positive impression on everyone you meet. And, for me, that doesn’t involve fostering a reputation as a serial complainer.
So, the next time you meet someone new, keep this in the back of your head: If you ran into this person again, would you be proud of this interaction? Would that person be excited to see you?
Make your best effort to ensure those questions can be answered with a resounding “yes,” and you’re much more likely to build stronger relationships.