Week 40: How building connections is like eating a cookie

Why am I making a cookie reference? Perhaps I would like a cookie. What’s there not to love about a cookie?  

Here’s why: I was speaking with a friend who is in the planning stages of opening a home-based cookie operation. We were talking about the mechanics of building the business, determining margins, forming distribution partnerships, and other elements of the start-up. (Clearly, I want to see these cookies on a shelf near me!) I told her that it’s not unusual for people (read: me) to pay $2-3 for a great cookie, but if you offer them a dozen for $25, they might look at you like you are crazy.

We considered that people eat cookies one at a time, so selling cookies at a higher margin one at a time is a good option.

That’s how I like to think about forming connections. One at a time.

As a speaker, I’m often in front of large groups. I love the adrenaline rush this provides, as well as the ability to spread a message to a larger group of people at once. What’s the most satisfying about these engagements though, is the 1:1 interaction that occurs before and after the presentation. I love hanging around afterward, usually pretending to clean up, when what I’m really doing is inviting inquisitive audience members to chat.

Because connections are made one at a time.

Typically, from an audience of 100, I will engage in meaningful dialogue with 4-5 people. You might be thinking, that’s a pretty low number – only 4 to 5?

But let’s remember the cookie principle. One at a time.

After eating the 4th or 5th cookie, I start to forget what I’m tasting and might even feel a bit nauseous. After meeting more than 5 people, my memory starts to get cloudy and I can’t engage as meaningfully as I want. This is why I get overwhelmed in large networking events and noisy hotel ballrooms. (Remember the freak out I documented from Week 16?)

The cookie principle also reminds me to slow down when it comes to building connections. In the time I sat on my friend’s front porch to chat about her business, I could have connected with a dozen people on LinkedIn, posted new content on all social media platforms, and responded to unread email. But hands down, the connection that was formed in this 1:1 conversation was more meaningful that any of those other actions. And it might score me some sample cookies down the road!

What can you do to slow down in order to build more meaningful connections?

How do you find ways to connect one person at a time?  


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Natalie
Small Town Leadership Founder; Natalie believes everything she needed to know to succeed in her career she learned by growing up in a town of 600 people. As a Certified Professional Coach and award-winning public speaker, she helps her clients and audiences make wherever they are feel like a small town. She lives in Dublin, Ohio with her husband, Rob, a professor at Ohio State and two little girls.

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