How To Make New Connections For Business And Life
“You Are The Average Of The Five People You Spend The Most Time With” – Jim Rohn.
“In my walks, every man I meet is my superior in some way, and in that I learn from him.”― Ralph Waldo Emerson
Turns out Mom was right when she warned you not to hang out with the wrong crowd when you were at school without doubt the best way to move forward in life is to choose the right people to associate with.
It sounds pretty obvious but going to the pub on a Friday night for a few beers and then going for a curry won’t work if you are trying to lead a healthier lifestyle instead of arranging to meet your drinking buddies then arrange to meet a different set of friends with values more congruent to yours at the gym for a class and sharing a healthy meal after will yield far better results.
Whether you’re starting a business, changing careers, training for a triathlon or trying to improve your mental health if you have the right people in your corner you are halfway there.
So – how do you meet and make connections with these inspirational people?
In business there are plenty of options such as Chambers of Commerce, Institute of Directors or industry specific events, socially then Meet Ups is a great place to start to find others with the same interests that you have or want to develop whether it’s board games or badminton.
In business – people work with those that they know, like and trust so when attending a networking event my approach is always the same.
Make friends – Making genuine connections is nothing more than making friends. When you are about to meet someone at an event then ask yourself “How would I treat this person if they were my close friend or someone I’d want to be a close friend?” Don’t have hidden agendas or try and push products – I never talk about my job – you put them first, you listen to them, you hear their problems so you can help in any way you can.
Add value – meeting people is about making their lives better. Help them connect with others they want to meet with, listen to their issues and try and solve them, send them an article or book or recommend a podcast that will enable them to solve a problem – I’ve recommended professional contacts, put people in touch with prospective new employers and even swapped training advice for mountain climbing there really is a way to help everyone.
Know what matters to them – do your research. If you have an attendee list prior to the event and there is someone that you really want to meet then learn about them before you go – with online tools it’s pretty easy to find out what they are interested in so there is no excuse not to learn about someone before trying to interact with them.
Once you start chatting with them pay attention and find common ground – everyone has something in common, the faster you can find shared ideas, beliefs and interests, the quicker you can relate. The easiest way to be interesting is to be interested. Listen and learn about what matters to them, people want to tell their story so be genuinely excited to hear it.
Don’t be afraid to show your passion. You must be interesting – tell your stories with energy and emotion, share your goals, be vulnerable and open. Talking about the weather does not build connection. Being real does.
Lead an interesting life. Live a life worth hearing about – most importantly for you, but for those around you as well. Do things you don’t normally do. Just being in new surroundings will cause you to interact with a new group of people without even trying. The more things you do and try, the more things you’ll have to talk about and the more fun you’ll have!
Show up in the real world. Connections don’t happen in your house or office. You must get out there, say hello and reach out. This can start with emails and online connecting, but that’s only the very beginning. Nothing makes a more powerful impact than meeting in the flesh. Don’t hide behind technology. Get out of your office and away from that screen and go out and meet new friends.
OK – all this sounds great in theory but what will I get from it I hear you ask?
I’ve been a self employed recruiter working alone from home for over 20 years – regular networking at business events has turned contacts into friends and into business opportunities, it’s given me new and fresh ideas and helped me see things from a different perspective, its provided a mentor and the chance to mentor others and it’s helped me though the highs and lows of owning a business.
Get out there – what’s the worst that can happen?