There are many people in the community who seek partnerships but have a hesitant approach when effectively networking with others. Some may ask: Am I making an effective first impression? Am I coming off genuine or am I coming off in a way that looks like we have our own agendas in mind? Is my approach considering the community and other agencies as a whole?
Before you consider these in-depth questions, it is important to take a step back and look at it from a positive, one person to another standpoint. In order to guide yourself through a productive conversation, theres a few general rules. These simple steps are key in making connections and establishing mutually beneficial partnerships:
First, always let a person speak their mind and do not interrupt. One person speaks at a time. Everyone is working towards their own agendas and it is important to hear each person’s story from their own perspective. This is one of the main points of the meeting, correct?
This ties into the second point, be respectful! Everyone has a reason for their actions and opinions on shared issues, so respect them even if they do not agree with your own! I find myself speaking with landlords who have faced negative situations with tenants, and if I was in their shoes, I would be frustrated as well. It is extremely important to listen and understand another’s person experiences, because this can give you an exclusive understanding of issues you might not encounter yourself.
Third, listen as an ally! You’re in this together, and there is no need to try and one-up someone or downplay someone else’s thoughts because you’ve had a different experience. People come from varying backgrounds and it is necessary to collaborate with partners who want to solve similar issues. Allowing this free expression not only validates someones struggles, but it also builds rapport with that person.
Always be moving forward! Always tie the conversation back into how it effects the subject at hand. These are basic, yet important, steps when meeting with someone for the first time.