Building lasting relationships and connecting with people can be a valuable skill for any person in any business, industry, profession or position. It is one of the most common traits that successful people point to when asked about what helped them in their journey. Chris Fralic, widely known for selling his software to Oracle, being responsible for the first rounds of investments for Warby Parker, Roblox, Hotel tonight, and helping launch TED talks, considers staying super connected the biggest contribution to his successful career. According to Fralic, going above and beyond with connections can really improve the quality of your career and life in the long run. His main advice is to add value to conversations by showing genuine appreciation and interest and truly engaging in your conversations. Here are the main takeaways from his comprehensive advice on how to do it right.
Conveying genuine appreciation
Something that leaves a good imprint on anyone is if they listened to and appreciated what you had to say. Fralic suggests you offer short responses like “of course”, “that’s awesome”, “really” and ask follow-up questions in all your conversations. Back-channeling helps let the speaker know you are following what they are saying and value their input. A lot of the times people hear a person speaking but don’t really listen, and listening with intent not only adds value to the conversation on your part but allows the speaker to contribute more meaningfully to the conversation.
Blue sky brain storming
Sometimes it just so happens that you have barely anything valuable or appreciable to respond with when a person approaches you with either an idea or plan or such. In those cases, Fralic says it is good to offer another way of looking the situation. Brainstorming with related ideas and newer perspectives with your acquaintances gives them something special and unexpected even if you could not provide what they were looking for. Fralic has been in those situations where an investment does not work out, but has been left impressed by the founders responding to it with optimism.
Don’t fake it till you make it
Although a widely encouraged method of getting through intimidating conversations, Fralic says “fake it till you make it” does not work. Even if it superficially gets you through an interaction, bluffing your way through can lead to bad decisions. Especially during important meetings and interactions, it can make you lose more points than faking it can earn you. A much more genuine and organic way to be confident around, say senior management, is to sincerely find out their career milestones, why you care about this person and company, news and announcements about them, etc.
Be honest in a useful way
Fralic points out that in most professions situations, people tend to keep it diplomatic and avoid being 100% honest due to the risk of tarnishing relationships and being disliked. Honesty in this case sets you apart from the rest, and shows that you prioritize the topic in hand over being liked. It however, does not mean that you should be completely socially oblivious and disregard everyone’s feelings. He suggests you be honest but also make sure to make it about something that is useful to them. After all, it is all about adding value to the interaction, so make sure you have something valuable when you take the risk of being 100% honest.
Chris Fralic lives by these principles and believes they will take anyone a step closer to building a strong, high value network and exponentially contribute to your reputation if followed consistently.