Do you strike up a conversation with strangers? Nancy and I generally don’t, but I now can tell you a story about what we miss when we don’t.

Last week Nancy and I traveled to Ireland. I contend the Irish are the most friendly people in the world, so I urge you to visit when you can..

We stayed in two cities near Dublin. The first was Enniskerry, the home of Powerscourt Estate, with some of the most beautiful flowers in the world, Powerscourt Hotel, one of our favorite hotels, and Mac’s Bar, the tiniest pub I have ever sat in.

At Mac’s, we felt right at home as each of the “regulars” spoke to us.

As we drank Smithwicks  pints at Mac’s, a couple came to our small table and introduced themselves: Mike and Maureen Moore from Lebanon, IL. We had a wonderful conversation. Mike and Maureen called the two bartenders by name as if they were lifetime friends.

Mike is retired from college coaching and being an athletic director. He is now the managing partner of Saddleback Stables LLC, a breeding and thoroughbred racing partnership. Maureen is currently the director of the Peabody Energy Leaders in Education program and was formerly in charge of fundraising for St. Louis University.

Mike,  Maureen and Kristy Bertelsman have also created Saddleback Chocolates. At their website you will find their thought behind the business:

Saddleback Chocolates was established to celebrate the grace and beauty of equine athletes and all breeds of horses…from English and Western arenas, to Polo grounds, race tracks and the Sport of Kings.

The next night we joined Mike and Maureen again at Mac’s to watch the US play Germany in the World Cup. That night they introduced us to Claudio and Robyn from Phoenix, who they had met earlier in the day. Robyn took our photo with the Moore’s. You can see just how tiny the pub is in the photo.

After the US loss, the six of us walked up the hill and ate dinner at Old Forge Inn, our favorite place to dine in Enniskerry. We had a blast.

On Friday, Nancy and I moved to the K Club for more golf. Mike and Maureen joined us for drinks and dinner.

While in the bar, we noticed two gentlemen in tuxedos. As we left, Maureen introduced herself and struck up a conversation. It turned out that the older gentleman is the father-in-law of the new Powerscourt Hotel owner, showing it is definitely a small world.

What is the point and why does it matter to you? Client development is not about selling yourself. It is about building relationships. I asked Maureen to share her thoughts on relationship building with you. Here is what she told me:

Strong partnerships begin with sincere relationships….as you build business relationships …you truly need to take time to engage a person…learning about all aspects of their life…both personally and peofessionally. Long term business relationships take time, but can become relationships you will value for a lifetime.

If you just sit and never introduce yourself to strangers, especially when on holiday, you miss a wonderful opportunity to build new and lasting relationships. You never know, that stranger you meet could be your next big client or referral source. At the worst, you will have practiced striking up a conversation with someone.