Sue Heilbronner, founder and CEO of MergeLane and regular speaker on conscious leadership, recently spoke at a Naturally Boulder event on strategies for making authentic connections while at an event such as World Tea Expo. The following are three takeaways from Heilbronner’s talk.
1. Practice conscious leadership
Conscious leadership starts with you, then your product, then your booth and then your company. When you choose to behave authentically, you drive long-term longevity for your product. An example Heilbronner gave to demonstrate this is the Southwest Airlines flight that held a number of demonstrators on their way to Washington, D.C., for this year’s Women’s March. The flight crew acted in an authentic way when the team chose to turn on pink lights in the cabin in support of its passengers. That wasn’t a preplanned marketing ploy—it was creating a connection with those passengers.
2. Be open
Part of conscious leadership is authentic communication. When communicating, we have two options: We can choose to reveal something about ourselves, which increases our availability to connect with the other person or we can choose to conceal ourselves. When we conceal ourselves from the other person, we withhold, then withdraw and then can even begin to resent them. By doing so, we deny ourselves the opportunity to engage with them fully.
3. Check your assumptions at the door
You may think you know who’s important to talk to at the show. But if you’re looking over the shoulder of the person you’re talking to at someone else you think is more important, you’re failing to connect with a potential partner. Direct all your attention to the person you’re having a conversation with—that person just might be of service to you. Avoid making judgments based on the name badge (and look at the person’s face before their badge!) or you’ll miss things that are important.
When attending an event like the World Tea Expo, it’s critical that you take the extra 5 seconds to make connections. After all, things you’d never expect can come from them.