Several years ago, a colleague and I launched Leader Connections, an organization providing NY area leadersÂ with opportunities to connect with other leaders committed to realizing their professional and personal life potential, and thereby better serve society. At these programs, we focused peopleâ€™s attentions on going beyond â€œnetworkingâ€ â€“ brief introductions to other people (often centered around simply exchanging cards) â€“ to â€œconnectingâ€ â€“ purposefully relating to people where you can provide value.Â (Today, we provide a similar forum through the by-invitation-only Executive Breakfast Club.)
In Stretch: How to Future-Proof Yourself for Tomorrowâ€™s Workplace, Â Karie Willyerd and Barbara Mistick provide a valuable formula concerning our need to reach out to new people. The networking/connecting process requires us to focus on both breadth of people and depth of relationships. To expand our network, they note that there are four â€œbridgingâ€ strategies to increase the breadth:
- Brokering â€“ like a matchmaker, link people to each other and their needs
- Connecting â€“ develop relationships with people through others
- Joining â€“ participate in many organizations and activities
- Sowing â€“ using a somewhat scattergun approach, constantly interaction with others
To develop depth in our connections, we need to build relationships. This requires a four step process:
- Knowing â€“ through introspection, get to know yourself and what you can do for/with others
- Persisting â€“ use persistent, unbounded pursuit and chutzpah to get to know people
- Performing – achieve recognition through accepting multiple leadership opportunities
- Growing â€“ build close, focused relationships, one at a time.
How are you doing at growing your network and making meaningful connections? Whatâ€™s holding your back? What are your strengths? Where are you weak? How can you leverage your strengths to overcome weaknesses? (Example: if youâ€™re shy, and an expert in an area, volunteer to speak on your topic, and conference members may come up to you after the speech, and introduce themselves!)Â Share with us your experiences and strategies and techniques that work for you!