Wednesday, January 11, 2006

I forgot how easy this was

While vacationing in Puerto Vallarta, I tapped into my old networking skills honed at business conferences and as a food server. Normally, I'm rather reclusive, shunning social events and avoiding large groups of people. Early on in the trip, we decided that we would speak to strangers at every bar. Serge was wide-eyed as I easily approached people and had them telling us their life stories. As at a business conference, it was likely we would never see these people again after vacation. It's really simple actually:

1. Introduce oneself and compliment something about the stranger (clothing, body part etc.)

2. Inquire as to origin and duration of stay of stranger (work hard to feign interest)

3. Share same info with stranger

4. If stranger gives a compliment, say "I think I like this one" to spouse.

5. Move on to other strangers

This was how we met dozens of people whom we waved at and kissed during subsequent encounters. This is the skill that makes potiticians and business moguls alike, but one which I am loathe to employ. Why? Because it's boring, inconsequential and nothing like real connections among people. Funny, the fake connecting skill can take you places, whereas a little too much honesty is a connection killer.

By the end of the trip, we would take our place in one of the watering holes as all the other people came by to chit chat and review activities partaken in the previous night. A few passes were made and rebuffed (only because not enough alcohol had yet been consumed). I don't remember all the Gregs, Mikes, Johns and Peters, but I do know they hailed from Northern cities like Vancouver, Cleveland, Boston, Toronto, Minneapolis, Calgary, and New York.

Rather pointless, actually.


Snooze said...

True, socializing/networking is superficial, but are you really expecting lasting friendships from a vacation? And this sort of thing makes a vacation fun.

dantallion said...

I've never been good at that. Either I connect with someone, or the awkward silence ends up encouraging one or both of us to move on. I can't do superficiality convincingly. It's one of my weaknesses, professionally speaking.

Glad you had a great trip - and Happy New Year a little late. A lot seems to have been going on in your corner of the world. Sorry about B-i-L. Troubled person or not, it can't be easy on the family.

jjd said...

pointless? I don't know about pointless.. I guess it passed the time more pleasantly than staring blankly at eachother? But I totally know what you mean. In fact, it was the daily schmoozing after work and bars that made me run kicking and screaming from my first job. I just have a real problem with it, and I hate feigning interest in someone's stories about raking the yard (and my own stories are equally lame)

Adam said...

I loathe chit chatting. The amoun of energy that it takes for me to act like I'm interested in what a stranger has to say far outweighs the benefits of not being alone in a public place. I'm more of an observationist anyway.

St. Dickeybird said...

I was really good at that when I was dating often.
It was a skill I didn't mind forgetting.
Now I scowl at strangers for no reason.

Patricia said...

it's weird but the more beverages i consume, the better i become at this skill.

go figure.

Miss Sassy said...

It feels like the grease in the gears of the day, doesn't it?? I mean it makes the whole day go easier, but you could just as well go without it in your normal routine... and you don't really remember it was there until you think hard about it; there is just a sense of a better time had by all when its used.

Whats the harm in spreading smiles across your face and theirs, right? If THAT is the point, it makes it less dreary work =)

Anonymous said...

My, but that's fascinating!

CoffeeDog said...

My friends that went to PV said the same thing...they met lots of guys, all with the same names, Greg, Mark, John, Steve. Hard to keep them straight!

r said...

Good observation Torn. Most of the time I couldn't agree with you more. But...I like the chit chat sometimes. Always a chance it will turn into more. I have some friends from Australia I met in a bar one night on vacation several years ago; so it doesn't always have to stop with some silly little story.

On the other hand, I'm not so good about approaching strangers in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Interesting strategy... I suppose it works best if you're with a spouse or boyfriend, otherwise the people you talk with expect you're picking them up for something more than conversation...

Pointless? It doesn't have to be. I met my first live-in lover while on vacation in Puerta Vallarta!