By Kare Anderson
Apart from honing their top talent, guess what Atul Gawande and Richard Branson have in common? They have two vital and intertwined traits in this increasingly complex world where we are drowning in information. They’ve sharpened their ability to be quotable and to be deeply connected to notable people in worlds apart from the one in which they work. In so doing, they are likely to see trends early and be considered thought leaders on a broader stage, thus being able to attract more opportunities and secure support. Namely, it keeps them sought-after.
Here are seven specific behaviors that are vital if you want to stay relevant and become sought-after, especially for those of you who are involved in science in which both innovation and regulation are speeding up:
1. Become a connective listener
Be genuinely curious by asking follow-up questions that relate to what a person just said, rather than what interests you. Keeping the focus on the other person enables you to get closer to their underlying interests, better remember what they said, and be able to discuss the world their way.
2. Make your message almost as vital as oxygen
Label yourself before someone else does. Some topics are widely discussed in first conversations, such as what you do or what you most care about. Give A.I.R. to those messages by including three elements: Make them Actionable, involve an element of Interestingness, and be Relevant.
3. Seek out the most left-out person in the situation
When in a lively gathering, pull in the most overlooked person and thus alter the dynamic of the conversation and earn an ally. Plus it will feel good.
4. Look to another’s positive intent, especially when they appear to have none
When you act as if the other person means well, you are likely to turn around potentially divisive situations and sidestep conflicts, and sometimes even turn potential critics into unexpected friends.
5. Speak soon to the strongest sweet spot of mutual benefit or interest
Start deeper and you may be surprised by the desire others have for meaningful conversation.
6. Cultivate Unexpected Allies
It pays to seek out individuals who are vastly different from you in temperament, life experience, and perhaps even values. Out of these meetings you may find the right ally to co-create a new product or organization, enter a new market, or to simply cross-consult.
7. Praise individuals in front of those who most matter to them
Specifically, vividly describe the admirable thing someone did when you are around their most valued colleagues or friends, either face-to-face or by sending a descriptive note or email to them, copying others. Do it soon while the event is fresh in your mind and before the opportunity slips away.
Kare Anderson is an Emmy-winning former NBC and Wall Street Journal journalist, and “Connected and Quotable” Forbes columnist and author of Moving From Me to We. She is now a professional speaker and consultant with clients as diverse as Novartis, Google, and the San Diego Padres.