The joy of connecting by Bonnie Ross-Parker

Bonnie Ross-ParkerBored with the same old networking chatter? Feel you’re wasting your time – again? Dread going? Rather be somewhere else? Read on for some different and exciting ideas from the ‘left side’ of the business— networking— and taking the next step: Connecting.  In the time it takes you to read this article, it’s my intention to provide you with enough “new ideas” to incorporate in your networking efforts to change your experiences from “mediocre” to great. Are you with me? Let’s face it. It doesn’t matter where you live or what company or service you represent, every market place is competitive and crowded. The majority of people are eager to throw a card at you and actually believe that having their business card is enough of a connection to foster business. Well, this may work for some networkers; however, I believe there’s a better way! During my professional life, I have chosen to connect with others in ways that felt different and exciting.

While networking is systematic and organized and a process by which you meet people, connecting is engaging in conversations, listening for similarities, finding ways to support someone else and being resourceful.

 NULL Everything you do is a statement of your belief, talent and dedication. By consciously choosing to connect with individuals in a style that is caring and harmonious it allows you to discover what you have in common. When you deliver value time after time, others are impacted.

You will soon realize by being authentic, observant, caring, generous and joyful your bottom line will improve.

People choose to do business with people they like and with whom they find things in common. In typical networking situations, no one even takes time to find out “if” there’s a fit, because people are scrambling to distribute and collect as many business cards as possible! Once you return to the office, then what? The Joy of Connecting™ is about enriching lives, yours and those you come in contact with. When we are connected to our own values and passions, we can deliberately share our talents with others. In other words, we already know who we are and what we bring to the people we meet. Connecting implies,

What do I offer that can help you? Who do I know that you need to meet? What challenges do you face that I might provide a solution for?”

(Are you still with me?) There are three specific strategies in The Joy of Connecting™ model. They are: Differentiate, Be Memorable and Make A Difference. When you are at networking events and apply any of these strategies consistently and conscientiously there is no end to the results you can achieve. The skills for connecting effectively will help you in business and in life. Let’s start with… Strategy #1 – Differentiate. Every day individuals are clamoring for their share of business. The reality is that unless you differentiate who you are and how you offer your product or service, you will have a difficult time securing customers. Being different in business and in life has its advantages. When we were younger, we succumbed to “peer pressure”. In the business world, “same” is a disadvantage.

When you differentiate you are self-confident, believe in your product or service AND show genuine interest in helping others.

You showcase your uniqueness by separating yourself from everyone else. While you value who you are and what you offer, recognize that your success in selling is directly linked to your ability to connect. Your goal in networking situations is to listen, to learn, to initiate conversations and to find ways you can bring your skills, ideas, resources and support to the people you meet. In the business world, to be able to differentiate yourself will give you a competitive advantage and is critical to your success. The more you talk the less you learn. The more you listen the more you learn. Dale Carnegie said it best. “You can make more friends in three months by being interested in them then you can in three years by getting others interested in you.” When you demonstrate your own generous style, others will take notice. Guaranteed. Strategy # 2 is Be Memorable. There are 2 components to being remembered. They are appearance and behavior. Why does Larry King always wear suspenders? Why did Bob Hope always carry a golf club? Is there anyone who doesn’t know Barbara Bush’s signature style? Sure these individuals are famous; however, they also recognized the value of their unique style. One of my colleagues always wears unusual ties. Another friend, a very successful networker, never shows up in public without a hat. I wear cowboy boots every day, year round. It is my signature style. People notice. I say, “Why show up if you don’t want to be remembered?” Perhaps creating a “personal look” will help you connect with others. Others will be curious. Look for people that exude style when you’re networking. Create conversations by asking questions. Commenting on someone’s style is an effective door opener. Remember. People love to talk about themselves. Be a great listener. Be Memorable– Part 2 is behavior. Behavior has two components. We can be remembered for the wrong reason (not a good idea) or for the right reason (yeah!). This is easy— lateness, failure to follow up and follow through, always talking, interruptive, and cheap are not characteristics that foster connection. On the other hand, writing thank you notes, doing what you say you’re going to do, making introductions, generosity and resourcefulness are great traits for which to be remembered. When you network, choose to connect with individuals that reflect the kind of people with whom you want to do business.

Appearance and behavior play a significant role in whether someone feels comfortable and connected to you. Don’t underestimate the value of being memorable.

Again, in a crowded market place, you want to be recognized for the right reasons. The last strategy is— Make A Difference. When you possess a desire to make a difference you must be clear about who you are, what you say, and what you do. Increase your ability to make a difference by being prepared to listen and to serve others. When you make a difference you are choosing to make every connection a positive experience. You set a high standard on how to treat others by your own example.

Making a difference shifts the traditional networking paradigm from what’s in it for me to what’s in it for them.

Your genuine concern and support of others creates lasting relationships which over time will increase your business. Think of experiences you’ve had where someone made a difference for you. They offered you help, supported your initiative, and went out of their way to get you something you needed. You can offer that same support to someone else and make a difference in their life. The choice is yours. Extend invitations to your colleagues and associates to attend future events as your guest. Introduce people you meet to people they need to know. Introduce people you know to people they need to meet. Establish yourself as an individual eager and willing to help others. Go the extra mile to offer someone a resource. Every connection affords you an opportunity to make a difference in both your personal and professional life. When networking most individuals are more interested in making a sale before making a difference.

You make a difference for others when you serve them first by putting them ahead of your own agenda.

People will do business with people who bring them value. You never know who you will meet and the impact you can make on their life. You never know who will meet you and the difference that encounter w
ill make on your life. People are listening to what you say, noticing how you look, and watching what you do. Decide to leave positive indelible imprints everywhere you go and in everything you do. Know the difference you can make by being of service to those you meet in your journey. Consider creating and sustaining your personal and business relationships by embracing The Joy of Connecting™. Beginning today, I challenge you to experience life by discovering joy in every connection. When you make every connection count, others notice. You will experience networking from an entirely new perspective. Try it. Anticipate great results

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