Lucky me! I just returned from 10 days exploring Vienna, Austria, and Venice, Italy, with Marc. Among the many activities we participated in during our time in Europe was a wonderful Italian cooking class at the incomparable Acquolina Cooking School in Lido, a suburb of Venice. Nearly 40 of us took part in a half-day event during which we learned to prepare a number of outstanding dishes such as gnocchi, fettucine, ravioli, pesto, tiramisu and panna cotta (that’s not all, but writing about it is making me too hungry to continue!) – it was a very special, memorable, meaningful experience. Yes, the food was incredible, but when I assign those superlatives to the experience, I refer not to the dishes we prepared (and ate!), but to the hands-on, active engagement with a group of others.
With no other specific agenda than to enjoy the company of the group, learn about Venetian cooking, break bread together… we came to know one another in a social way that also allowed conversation about our professional and community interests and endeavors. There is no doubt in my mind that the germ of relationships planted in that little home/cooking school somewhere in Italy will blossom for years to come.
In the past, I have touched on this subject in terms of volunteering with others in order to allow them to see you in action in a non-sales related, non-threatening way. The same principle applies here. Engage in activities with groups of people. Whether or not you know them in advance of that event is irrelevant. What will happen is that you will build memories together that you can refer to and look back on forever. You’ll reminisce… you’ll speak fondly of that time together… you’ll offer references for the people you interacted with… they’ll serve as references for you. So, andiamo! Let’s go and get involved with others in a social way to build friendships for a lifetime!