3 minutes to read
Over the last three weeks, I’ve covered whom you should connect with and the basic building blocks of relationships. Now it’s time to deal with where and how to make the initial connection. You may be wondering why I saved the first step for last. Ah ha, read on…
The Facebook Syndrome
At the risk of being sent to social media prison, most of the people you’re connected to on social media are not friends. In fact, until the advent of Facebook people understood a friend was someone with whom you had an actual relationship. LinkedIn is honest about it. It calls them connections.
Think about all the people you know. With how many do you have a real bond? I couldn’t find any statistics, but I bet it’s not more than 10% to 20%. Herein lies the challenge. You’re not going to create relationships with most of the people you meet. What’s more, no matter how targeted you are, you cannot control the other person’s response. You may be willing to put a lot of effort into forming a bond. But if the other person isn’t interested or sees no value your commitment probably won’t change his mind.
Finding people with whom to build solid, mutually beneficial relationships is an iterative process. You’ll have to make some connections. Then you’ll have to test them out a little bit. For many reasons most won’t be open to your overture. You’ll have to endure the rejection. Move on and keep searching.
Building relationships is challenging. Prospecting to find the right people is harder.
3 Simple Ways to Connect
Now do you see why I waited until now to address this step? Like most important undertakings that lead to success, finding the right connections will be frustrating. You know the benefit of having strong relationships. You know how to create them. With those two foundations, you can motivate yourself to do the hard work.
Here are three ways to connect with people. Try out one of them and see if it works for you. If not, move on to the next one. Think in terms of how comfortable you are with the process. Don’t worry about results at first. If you like the manner of connecting you’re more likely to continue using it until you find the right people with whom to build relationships.
- Social Media. No surprise, right? Here’s the key. Focus on one social media platform. I maintain a presence on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+, but Twitter is my main focus. It’s a writer’s medium. I love the challenge of being meaningful and concise. Almost everyone I want to connect with professionally is there so I just have to catch someone’s eye. Play around with different platforms. Find one that’s fun. Then find the people you want to connect with on it. Send them a message. Contact them regularly. If they respond, fantastic! Now, build an actual relationship. If not, press on.
- Community Service. Before I joined the navy I was involved in philanthropy. I volunteered to fundraise, provide programming, and serve as an officer of groups whose missions I believed in. As a result, I met hundreds of people and created many solid relationships. Find an organization you want to support. Make sure it’s large enough that you’ll meet a lot of people or has as its mission delivering value to the kind of people you want to meet. I joined the Real Estate Division of the Jewish Federation because I wanted to give back to my community. In exchange, I connected with some of the most successful people in the business. Nothing mercenary here. You can do good for yourself while doing good for others. It has to be mutually beneficial.
- House of Worship. What better place is there to find people with whom you share similar values? Yes, I know. Not everyone is a saint. But that doesn’t matter. You’re looking to sift through the hundreds or dozens to find the few with whom you’ll build a solid relationship. One of the best parts is most congregations have social events on a regular basis so all you’ll have to do is show up. Maybe you’ll have to bring a hot dish but that’s a small price to pay. Do you attend a small church? Consider looking for somewhere bigger. I understand you may feel uncomfortable. That’s a good reason to do it. Most of the best connections you’ll make will be outside your comfort zone.
Now you need to take action. No new connection was ever made through osmosis. No productive relationship ever came into being without effort. Everything you want in life hinges on working with other people. Who are they? Where are they? You have the tools to answer these questions. Go use them.
Where have you found is the best place for making connections? Please comment below.