If you’re in business, then you know the importance of meeting people and building new relationships. These days, you’ve got an abundance of networking events and meetups to choose from, where you’ll come across countless potential clients and collaborators. If you’re like me, you may find yourself getting very excited when you meet interesting people with whom you have the potential of building a business relationship, or maybe even a friendship.
OK, hold on there. Just because you can see the potential in a relationship doesn’t mean the other person is on the same page. This is where you are going to have to employ some patience and restraint. If you need to look those words up, do it now. They are going to become your best friends.
Vision vs. Delusion
You can see the possibilities – the way your vision perfectly aligns with your new business friend. You work in the same industry, you’re both at similar levels of development in your career, your skills are complementary, you share similar philosophies, perspectives, goals…
Before you start mapping out the terms of your partnership agreement, though, you’d better remember one thing. A relationship is a two-way street. What you have in your mind is your own set of ideas, potentially a great vision. However, if you build it out completely without consulting the other person, then sadly, your vision is more of a delusion. Don’t get so carried away on your own wave of enthusiasm that you forget about the necessity of the other person not only buying into but co-creating the plans you are making.
I remember one time, I was introduced by a friend to a client of his, the head of a creative agency in a big Midwestern city. She and I met over drinks at a little gathering he had arranged to celebrate their new partnership. We became instant besties, as I learned that we had many similar interests, and it was clear that there was some potential in us teaming up together.
I got so excited that I went home that night and wrote her a long letter, including my resume, a bunch of links to different articles I had written, and several ideas for how we might work together. I never heard back. Now, you may say, she should have at least acknowledged receipt of my message. And who knows, perhaps she never got my email? Well, I did check back a week later to make sure. Still no response. My thought – I came on way too strong!
It’s All in the Chemistry
We’re all excited about our own ideas, our own dreams, so we have to be careful that we’re not sucking all the oxygen out of the room talking about ourselves. Business partnerships, like any relationships, are as much about listening as they are about talking. Finding that balance isn’t always easy. And the reality is, sometimes, as much as you’d like it to happen, you may not be a good fit with someone who seems like a good match on paper.
Sometimes we may feel a greater sense of urgency to connect than other times. Maybe you really need to generate some income. Or perhaps you find yourself excited by someone else’s energy. Or maybe you just want something new to happen… In any case, try to remember that sometimes too much confidence or enthusiasm can come across as overly intense or narcissistic, and can actually be a turnoff. Just like in dating, sometimes it pays to play a little hard to get.