For us introverted people establishing great relationships and connections with people can sometimes be difficult. I’ll be honest, sometimes I don’t always try as hard as I should saying hello to people on a daily basis (even people I know well). I recently remembered a Dale Carnegie book I read in college and realized (again) how much we can improve our lives by polishing up some basic social skills.
Do you ever meet people who sometimes seem to get everything for free? I mean they get into packed restaurants without waiting, they can get great deals on home improvements, and they always have someone for a certain job. I’ve come to realize that those people are successful because they have great social skills.
Following In Warren Buffett’s Foot Steps
While it may not seem like it now, Warren Buffett once had stage freight. Yep, he had poor public speaking skills. Seems pretty crazy who speaks in front of a crowd of thousands at his Annual Meeting, right?
When Buffett moved back to Omaha after graduating from Columbia, he saw an ad in the local paper for a Dale Carnegie public speaking course. A young Buffett took the course to improve his biggest weakness.
So who is Dale Carnegie? Well, back in the day he was a pretty famous salesman, corporate trainer, and self-improvement speaker. He authored several very successful books, but his magnum opus is How To Win Friends and Influence People. It’s a great book on how to build relationship and interpersonal skills.
I love Carnegie’s book because he lays out the concepts and ideas in a concise manner. Plus, his principles are all backed by entertaining first hand stories. The blueprint may seem simple (like most things in life), but they are highly effective.
Some of his fundamental rules include: remembering people’s names, smiling, and saying thank you/expressing appreciation. I’ve applied these three Carnegie rules to my life (among others) and witnessed a pretty dramatic improvement.
Silence Is The Best Strategy
How to Win Friends and Influence People is filled with dozens of useful gems. However, the best advice I took from the book is to let people talk about their interests and needs/wants.
If you give most people the time, they will go on and on about what bugs them, what they like, and even the occasional gossip. The point is, people love to talk about themselves.
When the person is done talking, they seem appreciative for the lending ear. It’s a great tool to use in order to get to know someone better or to break the ice. I’ve used this many times when I’ve attended shareholder meetings.
Living The Dale Carnegie Life
It has been a while since I’ve first read Carnegie’s book. As I reread through his masterpiece, I am absolutely shocked as to how much I have benefited from his teachings. Here are a few ways where I’ve benefited from his book.
Great Dental Work
Anyone else also hate going to the dentist? I’ve always looked at it as an annoying chore. Luckily I haven’t required any major dental work yet (*knock on wood*).
A while ago, my old boss referred me to his dentist. It was close to work and convenient. Plus, he said the guy did a decent job.
One day I finally made the appointment and went out to see him. We hit it off great. He spent about 20 minutes talking to me about his philosophy and showing me around his office. He was proud to have some of the latest and greatest dental technology.
The conversation drifted a bit more casual after that. He discussed his kids and what they were up to. We even discussed a little bit of college football. Throughout our initial contact, he did most of the talking. Anyways, I think we hit things off great. I even helped him out and referred a few new guys at the office to help out his practice.
I’ve been at that same practice for about two or three years now and the service keeps getting better. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that he’s helped me out with a few procedures. He did a root canal for me for $125 after insurance and also pulled out a wisdom tooth (ouch!) for under $80!
They always say there’s no such thing as a free lunch (or dinner). However, I’ve gotten plenty of “free” dinners from my favorite local restaurant.
My friend (let’s call him Eric) runs a pretty successful Pho restaurant near my apartment. It’s about three blocks from the beach and attracts many regulars and tourists.
I first spotted the restaurant about three weeks after it first opened. I went in with a friend and decided to check it out. Eric was a great host. He allowed us to sample several items from the menu on the house. He even took off 10% from the bill!
During my second visit, I got to know Eric a little better. He’s originally from Vietnam, but has been stateside for many years now. He’s been in the tech industry for decades, but decided to open this little slice of heaven. After I let him know I told a few friends about this place, he took 20% off my bill right away!
Anyways, I’ve been a regular at his restaurant for many months now. I go every Friday night after the gym. Sometimes I even go on Sundays to watch the prime time football game with a bunch of friends. The service is great and it’s fun to talk to Eric about the business. While I have no intentions of opening my own restaurant, I’ve learned a lot about how one operates.
The amazing thing about our relationship is that he always gives me free things (even though I tell him not to). He’s given me a ton free appetizers (chicken wings, egg rolls, drinks, and more). Not only that, but he routinely takes 20% – 50% off my entire bill! I regularly tip 40% – 50% because of that.
Since I think this is one of the great restaurants near the beach, I’ve referred probably 15 – 20 people to his place over the past six months. This is real life affiliate marketing!
How To Build Better Connections
For a lot of people (including me), it can be hard to build great relationships with people. They tend to require a decent amount of work and a sizable time investment. However, in almost all cases, having better connections will make your life multiples more enjoyable.
The best way to achieve this is to help people out without expecting anything in return.
Here are my 3 strategies to build better relationships:
1. Smile and ask how their day is: People always say smiling is important and it is! Putting on a smile makes you more approachable. Further, when you ask about someone’s day, it sends them a great message about what kind of person you are. You’re the kind of person that takes interests in others.
2. Remember little things (kids, birthdays, etc): When you meet someone you should obviously always try to remember names. However, take that a step further and remember little things.
Maybe it’s that their kid just started soccer or maybe their birthday or something else that is important. Bring it up next time you talk and they’ll be surprised at how much you paid attention.
Remembering the little things is also great because it helps you with gifts (another great way to build connections). In Eric’s example, I remembered he mentioned that he likes cognac. He even has a few good bottles near the back of his restaurant. So for Christmas, I gave him a bottle of Hennessy.
3. Let them do most of the talking: As I mentioned before, people love to talk about themselves. You’ll hear no complaints from anyone for listening to their woes. Just listening and responding when appropriate can help you cultivate much better relationships.
Readers, have you ever been provided excellent service because you’ve known someone personally? Have any great tips to build better relationships? Let me know in the comments!