Join the Conversation

It was one of those business trips where I was going to have to be on four planes and deliver the opening keynote for a conference all within 24 hours. In an effort to conserve energy, I hunkered down in the seat of my first flight, turned on my ipod, opened my computer and entered my own world, tuning everyone around me out. And then it hit me…here I was flying to California to share the message of needing each other more now than ever before and how important it is to “join the conversation” and yet here I was resisting. Was my life really that busy that I didn’t have time to stop, even for just a minute, to engage with the person next to me? Then I remembered something Ken Blanchard shared recently, “Are we too busy being human doing that we forget to be human being?” So, I turned to the man next to me an introduced myself.

For the remainder of the flight, I had the most fascinating conversation with my new friend Steve who shared his passion for ending poverty worldwide and how he plans to do it. As we were getting off the plane we exchanged business cards and promised to “keep the conversation going.” Coincidentally, the message I recently delivered to 1500 professional speakers and meeting industry experts this summer.

In July, I had the privilege of being the convention chair for the National Speakers Association International Convention in Phoenix, Arizona. For the past two years, I have been working closely with a great team of colleagues and meeting planning professionals to design, plan and execute a meeting unlike anything we had seen in the past. I had no idea two years ago when I created the vision for the meeting that we would be in the economic situation that we are in today. As it turned out, the vision for creating an interactive convention experience where we could all engage, collaborate, support and problem solve with each other was exactly what everyone needed. People came ready to be part of the conversation, looking for ways to be a resource to others. As a result, it was a very magical four days for everyone and definitely one of the most rewarding professional experiences of my life.

Are you too busy “doing” that you’ve forgotten about “being?” Here are some action steps to get you back in the conversation;

Remember the 3-Foot Rule. Everyone within 3 feet of you is a potential network contact. Avoid pre-judging or pre-qualifying someone as being a potential resource to you; chances are good that this person will be able to “connect some dots” to help you get one step closer to a person, information or resource you’re looking for. Be open.
Look For Ways to Communicate Your Value. If you’re part of a social network (like Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin) post valuable information, tips or resources about your expertise and passion. Be on the alert for opportunities to share your knowledge with your network with the intention to help them.
Rediscover Serendipity! Call it divine intervention or the way the universe works, but life is all about serendipity. Make friends with it again and celebrate the moments when the person sitting next to you on the plane is exactly the person you needed to meet!