At a recent dinner party that I was hosting, as usual I found myself getting to know the one stranger in the room. One of my “tactics” is to find a common interest and see what things we can talk about. A way of doing this is making a personal connection. To preface this, I have a huge extended family that has been in business locally for several generations and because of this I find myself making a quick connection and using them as my networking crutch. On this particular night I was asking the appropriate party questions and keeping things pretty light when I asked if they did business with a cousin of mine. HOLY WRONG NAME TO DROP! Not only did this person use words I hadn’t heard before, but I am pretty sure a couple of Wikipedia entries are do. And to remind you, I have worked in some pretty rough kitchens. I spent the next 20 minutes distancing myself from this bad seed and explaining to the new friend that the rest of us are completely different. For me, my intentions were to create a common thread and build on that. And if you know me I just need a little spark and I can keep a conversation going til I get sleepy. But instead of having a laugh and comparing stories, I put this person on the defensive and then he went on the offensive. It just reminded me that I have to be sure to chose my connections wisely and remember that everyone has had different experiences with each other, making it even more important to listen. Even though I totally agreed with my “new friends” stance and really felt horrible for him, it didn’t matter until he got his story out. I will continue to use my family and friends to build my relationships, but I will also do a mental inventory on quality verses quantity. Oh yeah, I won’t be sharing my political thoughts either next time! Ha.