The last two weeks, I received at my place at North Easton,MA (USA) about 150 people for the celebration of my wedding to the most amazing person God blessed me to be with: My wife, Dr. Vanessa Estelle Fossouo. There were people everywhere, some people I haven’t heard of for more than 10 years, friends from high school, from college, for previous workplace… Other than my friends, lot of my wife’s friends were also there. One week after the wedding there are few names that seem to be unforgettable. People ask me about these few people, about where they live, how I got to know them, and more important it’s only with great appreciations that those names are pronounced. One of those people who wonderfully set themselves apart is my dear friend Dustin Adkison, the Corn hole guru. When I asked people around, why did Dustin impressed you so much that you have so great things to tell about him, the common response was: LEADERSHIP. Dustin built great relationships and connections with people because of his LEADERSHIP. Leadership is relationships…what is this about?
- Don’t wait for people to come to you, go to people. The one thing everybody noticed with my friend Dustin is that he wasn’t shy going to meet people he couldn’t talk with with because of the language barrier. Most of the guests at the wedding were French speaking people and seduced them was the effort of Dustin to overcome that barrier and to try hard to communicate and connect with them.
- Take some notes after meeting a new person and use your notes. Dustin, had an iPad and before the day before the wedding he was introducing himself to everyone and was taking time to take note of all the people he was talking with. He did show me the type of notes he was writing down and I could see information such as the full name, what the person does, how he connected with the person, the day and place they met, and special notes. The next day a the wedding, when Dustin was coming across someone he met with the night before, the approach was way easier and there was that little thing the two of them had because of the time they spent to the previous day to connect and the time Dustin spent to write note, read the notes and use the notes.
- Adapt yourself. When you go to places with different culture than yours, the temptation is to just look and not try to embrace that other culture. Dustin actually did embrace the culture he was surrounded with. The food, the music, the language, the people, the dance… We could all tell he was an alien to that culture but what was fascinating is that he behaved like part of it, he adapted himself to it.
- Take full responsibility. Taking responsibility is pretty much doing what Dustin did. It means accepting you are in a new
environment, it means you are surrounded by a culture different than yours, you are surrounded by people you do not know and have never met, buy instead of complaining about it, instead of staying along the wall or at the corner, you understand that you are the one who need to take action to get people to know you. Taking responsibility means to give your all and to expect nothing in return.
- Demonstrate respect and Kindness.
- Be persistent. If you’ve ever been abroad or been introduced to someone whose primary language is different than yours, then you know that pronouncing names correctly is a challenge. Most people easily give up after they tried twice. Dustin, wanted to make sure he get the right pronunciation. So he would ask people to help him get the right pronunciation of their names until he get that right and they were all flattered by the attention.
At occasion such as weddings or any other occasion where you can come across people you never met before, the opportunities to to grow your network, expose your business, find new customers come from your ability to be a leader in relationships. Leadership is relationship is about the heart not the head.