Have you ever found yourself in a situation where it feels like the person talking to you is not genuinely interested in getting to know you?

We’ve all found ourselves at a networking event where someone approaches you in hopes of becoming better acquainted. But instead of an engaging conversation, you find yourself the victim of a well-rehearsed 10-minute speech about the person’s accomplishments and aspirations

At the end of the night, what did that conversation accomplish? That person may have left with your business card feeling like they’ve grown their “network,” but they didn’t start a relationship.

At Grassroots Leadership Academy, we talk a lot about building communities based on genuine relationships instead of networks. And the first step toward building relationships is finding common interests.

How to Find Shared Interests

When it comes to those initial conversations, do more talking than listening.How can you find common interests if you don’t know what the other person is interested in? If you focus on making the conversation about the other person, you can find out what’s important to them and where you can connect.

Areas where you may share something in common with the person you’re talking to could include:

  • Favorite sports teams
  • Family backgrounds
  • Hobbies
  • Favorite television shows or movies
  • Vacation destinations
  • Jobs
  • Favorite restaurants or foods

When I lead training sessions across the country, I enjoy starting each night with an icebreaker focused on finding shared interests in the room. My favorite hobby to share is that I brew my own beer and cider. So far, only one other person has shared they also brew their own beer!

But that doesn’t mean I’ve found only one person with a common interest. If an activist shares that they enjoy biking or hiking, we can connect by talking about the trails we enjoy or sharing stories about our trips.

Some participants find these icebreakers pointless or distracting from the topic of the presentation. But in reality, these initial “get-to-know-you” activities are essential to building communities of like-minded activists who want to advance the ideas of a free and open society.

Shared Interests Make A Solid Foundation

You can’t effectively change culture without a committed group of likeminded people who genuinely enjoy spending time together as they work to promote freedom.

You can find similar interests with just about anyone, even people who don’t share your political views. Those hobbies or passions we share, from sports teams to favorite movies, are a great way to start getting to know someone before sharing the message of freedom.

The next time you find yourself in a group of people or networking with someone one-on-one, remember that relationships are formed on shared interests. Instead of spitting out your standard “about me” speech, make it your goal to learn about them. After all, relationships are how we’ll advance freedom.

You can learn more about building relationships at our Meeting People Where They Are training. To see what GLA trainings are coming up near you, click here.

Want us to hold an Insight to Action Forum in your area? Click here to request a specific forum focusing on a variety of topics.