He’s making friends by the book

Marana’s interns share their summer experiences.

Anthony HunterAfter plowing through the carnage of the first three books in the Game of Thrones series, it was time to pick up some lighter fare. “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” by Dale Carnegie, seemed a suitable alternative. What George R.R. Martin achieves with swords and dragons, Carnegie does so with ideals of human behavior. Both authors are, arguably, dealing with the same subject: the innate human desire to be great. Dale’s method just involves a bit less bloodshed.

Delving into Mr. Carnegie’s principles of interaction could not have come at a more appropriate moment. Last week was the Arizona City/County Management Association’s annual conference, right here at the Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain in Marana. This was my first real chance to swim through the waters of professional networking. The last time I’d set foot in a hotel this nice, I’d been a turndown attendant in the housekeeping department. Now, I was a management intern, operating under the aegis of the Town Manager’s office. I was ready to jump on that big bus to greatness.

As representatives of the Town, fellow intern Heath and I were tasked with handing out complimentary gift bags to the conference attendees. This seemed like the perfect activity to kick-start my new lifestyle of influence and friend-winning. Folks would literally be walking up to me, asking questions about our bags – easy openers to a smooth networking discussion. “Oh, hi! Yes, please, take a complimentary gift bag, and do you want to connect on LinkedIn?” Simple.

Things didn’t really work out that way though. People were digging the gift bags, don’t get me wrong (one attendee grabbed three throughout the course of the conference). Only thing was, they weren’t really digging on my networking advances. They would thank me kindly for the bag then head over to the Arizona Public Service table to get M&Ms. What was I doing wrong? What would Dale be doing in my situation? Heck, at this point, what would George do?

I unwrapped one of the cookies we placed in each bag and thought on my sad situation in between scrumptious bites. There had to be some way that I could get through to these ACMA folks. This was my career! I needed to win these friends and influence these people.

Then it hit me.

Part Two: Chapter 6: “How to Make People Like You Instantly.” I looked down at the cookie crumbles left in my hand and thought, “Who doesn’t like a guy who gives ‘em a cookie?”

So from then on I advertised the cookie-in-the-bag and got smiles galore. People had an interest in what we were all about, and seemed to return, time and time again. Maybe they came back for the sweets, but I’m not ashamed to say I used delicious treats to my advantage.

After the event, I feel pretty confident in my path to success. Just as long as I keep a few cookies close by.

Anthony Hunter is a Master of Public Administration candidate at the University of Arizona. 

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