Give Me The Fish (GMTF): Making connections with people, even in brief encounters matter. People want to help out those they like.
And, no matter who you are or what experiences someone has, they can’t know everything. By being friendly and making personal connections with those you meet, you learn about opportunities that are not available to the rest of the world. And Jerks? Screw em’.
It’s 5 a.m. and I’m sitting at the airport typing away on my next article and my phone goes off. I’m a little confused, not too many people text or call me this earlier in the morning. Unless, of course, something has gone wrong, so naturally I assume the worst.
I’m thinking it’s probably one of my clients with a problem. This trip is actually to go visit them in Hawaii, and they have a few pending deliverables. I take a breath and clear my mind before I look at my phone, a habit I have gotten into over the years. It’s a text. A text from American Airlines telling me that my first flight is delayed four hours.
The problem is, my connecting flight to Honolulu is now going to be missed by a small margin of 2 hours (sarcasm if you can’t tell). The text was also kind enough to say they rescheduled me. I just need to confirm. So, I click on the link and sure enough an error pops up.
I look around for the closest customer service desk and head over.
There is a guy there frantically hopping between two computers with a look that says “Help!”. Meanwhile, he is being hounded be irate customers trying to reschedule their flights.
Being A Jerk Rarely Gets You Anything
I quietly wait my turn, preferring not to engage in the angry bickering around me. As I stand there, I watch him turn away customer after customer. As they yell at him for things clearly outside of his control, he is quietly asking them to head to their gate to find a solution or follow the directions on their phone.
I finally get to the desk, and just being friendly, I comment, “Hey man, you look busy.”
In a frantic voice, he said, “Yeah, all the printers are broken and we have a flight that is leaving right now, but how I can help you?” this all came out with a squeak as he continues working under the pressure of everything stressing him out.
“No worries, is there another desk we can head to, so you can finish up?” I ask.
There is now a line of 4-5 people forming behind me.
Relived, he says “Yeah, around the corner, they can help you, probably quicker too.”
I turn around, “Hey everyone, if you’re not on the flight leaving right now, the desk around the corner will be able to help you out sooner.”
Everyone immediately starts filtering out of the line and around the corner.
It always amazes me how willing people are to listen to clear confident directions from random strangers.
Being Friendly Is Like They Getting a VIP Pass
The guy smiles, stress not gone from his face, but it doesn’t look like someone dropped a fully loaded barbell on his back anymore. “Thanks!” he said.
“No problem,” I tell him, then I head over to the next desk to get in line.
It worked out great. The guy in front of me was from Chile and I’ve been planning a trip to visit for a couple of days now. Just being friendly, I ask him about his home and the best places to go. Excited to talk about his country, he immediately starts filling me in on all of the cool spots that everyone misses when traveling.
After a couple of minutes go by, I get to the front of the line. I tell the Chilean man to have a safe flight and step up to the desk.
It’s the same Customer Service guy as before. “Man, you doing alright?” I ask. He still looks stressed out.
He starts telling me about everything going wrong that day. Multiple flights canceled, multiple flights delayed, the computer system crashed, and the printers aren’t working.
After talking for a short while, we realize that we’re holding up the line. “Alright, let’s do this really quick,” he says. He asks me about my problem and I tell him about the delay situation.
“I’ll tell you what, all of the flights leaving are full, but I had one cancellation for a flight three hours from now. I’ll move you there, and in the meantime, I’ll put you first in standby for the next three flights going out”, he said.
Gratefully, I tell him, “Thanks man!”. Sure enough, he printed out four sets of tickets, one set for each possible flight combination. We both tell each other good luck and go our separate ways.
People Go Out of Their Way To Help People They Like
Just a little bit of empathy and being friendly and I had managed to build two connections that immediately paid dividends. This short period of making connections was enough to get some awesome local help for a future trip to Chile and get a leg up in solving my current travel problem.
This scenario is not unique.
We often forget how important it is to just take a few seconds here and there for making personal connections with those around us. Most people want to help other people, the issue comes down to how you’re viewed. If there is no personal connection, no relationship, you become just another object in their life. “Just part of the job” or something between them and continuing with the rest of their day.
The Real Kind Of Networking, Actually Making Connections
You have all probably heard of some kind of networking group, or was invited to one at some point. This is not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about making real connections in everyday life.
The kind of connections the world runs off of. And you already know this. It’s like when you start a job. Even if you know what you’re doing when you show up, everything is still extremely difficult. It’s difficult because you don’t know the resources are yet, you don’t know who to reach out to, and you don’t know who can help. Then, over time the job gets easier as you start talking to people and getting to know them.
Making Connections The Right Way
The easiest way to convince some way to start helping you is just being friendly. I don’t care who you are or what you’re into. You can manage to find a way of being friendly to those you meet.
I hate small talk. And this isn’t advocacy of that by any means. There is a specific point and a desired outcome. This is about asking questions that one of you actually cares about.
Finding out what the other person needs, and letting them know what you need, is the first step. As, long as you can tie your wants and their wants together and ensure you don’t come off as a jerk, you will quickly find doors opening up for you.
Making Connections In The Moment Is Essential To Success
People have a habit of focusing on building these sprawling networks and these long-term relationships, and while these have a place, it’s missing a key factor.
That fact is that 90% (total swag) of the connections we make, take place in a random place and on the spur of the moment. The time you spend just meeting people on the street, in the grocery store, or at the airport, are not planned and likely will have you never seeing the other party ever again.
These spurs of the moment engagements often can have a lasting impact, despite there being only a couple of seconds of contact.
While being a jerk or a bully can sometimes work, it will be the bare minimum to get you out of their face and the chances of them helping you again in the future are close to zero.
Being friendly, making connections with those you meet presents opportunities that can drastically make your life better. People always help those they like first, and they are always willing to help them more if able.
Don’t be a jerk and you will quickly find yourself coming out ahead in life.