You’ve probably heard the phrase, “People do business with people they know, like and trust”. It makes sense. When we’re comfortable with people, we’re more willing to hang around them and more willing to fork over money to them believing they ‘get’ us and can help us.
The challenge arises when we get and stay too comfortable, surrounding ourselves with people who are just like us. It makes life easier perhaps, but also limits our learning. We get caught up in “Group Think” and we believe the entire world feels what we feel and believes what we believe.
From a professional standpoint, it’s important to hang out with your industry kindred. You’ll learn more about your craft, be able to tap into the wisdom and experiences of people who’ve walked the trail ahead of you.
But again, if your professional kindred are ALL you hang out with, your perspective will likely narrow. Your problem-solving abilities could become limited by what’s already been tried before.
What might you learn if you spent time with people from different industries, professions or persuasions? What new skills might you add to enhance your career? What new marketing tactics might you uncover for your business? What new and valuable clients or connections might you make?
It’s important that we step outside of our comfort circles and meet and learn from people in new arenas who bring fresh perspectives to our world views.
I don’t know the political affiliations of many of my friends and very few of my clients. I tend to avoid having political conversations in social or professional settings.
While I don’t mean to draw lines in the sand, I do want to use the experiences of the week to make a point. I’ve been a registered Green Party member for about 20 years now. I do tend to vote along Democratic lines although not blindly.
I have to recognize though that I live in a predominantly Republican state. My Governor is Republican; my U.S. Senator is Republican. I need to hear from them. They need to hear from me.
Today, I represented the Phoenix Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) as the Chapter’s President, at a Meet & Greet for Senators John McCain and Scott Brown, recently elected to fill Senator Kennedy’s vacated seat for Massachusetts. After Senators McCain and Brown spoke, I (along with most everyone else in the room), gathered around them to shake hands, express sentiments and take pictures. I had a message I wanted to deliver to Senator McCain on behalf of NAWBO, so moved with the crowd until I got close to him.
There were a few people still between us, yet he reached past them and grabbed my hand to thank me for being there. OK, I did stand out in the crowd, but I was still impressed that he so intentionally acted to connect with me.
I made my pitch for affordable health care and gave him my hand-written note which mentioned a few other things of import to our association and me personally, snagged the photo above, thanked him and headed for pizza.
Do you insulate yourself from people who have opinions that differ from yours or do you reach out to them and try to connect and influence? Do you allow yourself to be touched by people who are different from you? Do learn from your encounters or do you stay with your ‘tribe’ and lay blame on the state of the word?
Reach out. Take action. Step across the ‘aisle’ and discover new shores.