We all know someone who is a ‘connector’; it is the person we seek out to acquire information, contacts, and referrals. They are the ones who seem to know everyone and have a willingness to help with their charismatic nature. When you meet them for the first time, you feel that you have been friends for years. The practised connector shows interest, sincerity, humour, and wants to get to know, like, and understand you and your business. Their instinct is to help and make a difference in your life while their words of encouragement transform you into action. Brené Brown so eloquently stated, “A connection is the energy that exists between two people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.”
It is the willingness to reach out to an individual you do not know and be curious to learn about them that is the art of connecting. Being willing to take yourself out of your comfort zone and not being a wallflower enables you to span different cultures, positions, and worlds. When there is uncertainty in economic times, it is even more important to learn how to become a connector. Our natural inclination when attending large gatherings, meetings and networking events is to seek out the people we know and makes us feel comfortable. However, to grow and ensure our network continues to develop, we must be willing to be uncomfortable as change can only begin at the end of our comfort zone.
So, what happens if the world as you know it was snatched from underneath you? Could you have imagined a social and business landscape that would change overnight? Has Covid-19 stopped you from making connections?
To succeed in an ever-changing and evolving world, we need to want it badly enough and have a desire to do things differently and undertake new challenges. A common thread among connectors is their commitment to take chances while thriving on their insatiable energy to deliver results. Anybody can become a competent connector, even in a world of instability and uncertainty. Indeed, now is an ideal opportunity to engage with others differently and practise your connection skills.
In self-isolation, we no longer need to worry about the perfect outfit or the way we walk into a room and who will be there. Today, we simply need to be present online and engage in virtual networking events. When walking into a room, we cannot get to know everyone, although many try. A smart connector will select 2 or 3 people they would like to get to know and develop a meaningful relationship. Online is no different. Listen to people talk, hear what they are saying and make a note of those individuals you are interested in getting to know. Although we can no longer arrange a coffee catch up, you can still share virtual coffee time from the comfort of your own home or office. Arrange a time to connect with them independently on Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp or Messenger. Make sure you do some homework on the person you are connecting with beforehand. Look at LinkedIn and their website if they are a business owner.
Connectors want to help people; they want to learn about you, what makes you tick, what your interests are, and who your ideal clients are to consider useful connections. Virtual meetings do not change that. Instead of reading body language in person, we can still pay attention and look at hand gestures, facial expression, and tone of voice. Helping others does not mean you cannot hold some things back; you would not give the key to your home to a stranger, so when sharing, you still need to protect yourself. Connectors give without expecting reciprocity, and they check in with you regularly.
Covid-19 does not restrict you from being or becoming a skilful connector. People respond to kindness and will remember you for your willingness to reach out even in a tumultuous landscape.