This afternoon over coffee, my friend, Cindy, commented that, like me, she immediately knows when two of her contacts need to know one another. She says it is simply intuitive. It led to us discussing what about our respective personalities enables this ability. I had to chuckle as a now-funny memory came to mind…
The year was about 2000 and I was sitting in my annual performance review. My manager couldn’t have been nicer, “you’re doing a great job, Alana, keep up the good work;” “your results are stellar, Alana, well done!” and “so glad you’re on the team, Alana.” Then came the zinger: “Alana, one of the things I’ve noticed is you have an amazing capacity to see ideas through two and three steps out and to anticipate what is going to happen and what the best response to those scenarios should be. That’s all fine, but it would be really wonderful if you would pause to bring your colleagues along with you.” Ouch! Suffice it to say, I was embarrassed and more than a little disappointed that my seeming foresight turned out to be useless in the context of corporate life. Lesson learned.
I’m proud to say I can, in fact, envision programs, projects and interactions two and three steps out. However, I now realize, though it’s OK to sprint ahead, it’s OK only if the whole team is on board with you.
Over the years, I’ve learned to use this “gift” for good and not evil! In the context of Networking, when talking with a contact, based on their interests, their experiences, something they said during our conversation or the like, it becomes immediately obvious to me when there is a connection I can make for them that will be mutually beneficial to both parties. I can see out two to three projects or years or interactions and anticipate that something great is going to happen. It’s always my sincere privilege to connect great people. When I make these introductions, I try to give a (very) brief overview of who each party is, his/her background and why I thought they should meet. That said, one thing I try not to do is project onto the potential relationship any specifics about the work they ought to do together – I assume they will figure that out for themselves.
Suffice it to say, it works! I can point to several connections I made that, over time, developed into business partnerships, enduring peer mentoring relationships, job offers granted, friendships and the like. It is gratifying to think I played some small role in helping to cultivate these relationships.
Whether it is or isn’t natural for you to connect people and ideas, it’s always in everyone’s best interests for you to try – you will earn the trust and respect of your contacts and you will help others to advance their lives in a positive manner. Remember these ideas:
- As you interact with people, be thinking about how you can add value to their lives. You can start by asking, “How can I help?”
- When you encounter two people who you believe could benefit from knowing one another – based on their interests, backgrounds, ideas, perspectives, needs, etc. – make an effort to connect them.
- The best way to connect people to one another is through mutual introductions. My favorite approach via email. Something like this:
Jane – Meet Pete. Pete – Meet Jane.
Jane: Pete Smith is a small business owner in your area in need of marketing advice to help grow his market. Pete can be reached at (123) 456-7890 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pete: Jane Doe is a marketing expert with the Web World Agency. Her specialties include effective utilization of social media and activating crowd sourced ideas. Jane can be reached at (123) 890-4567.
Hope the two of you will connect in a networking capacity. Please let me know if I can be of additional assistance.
So, get out there and be sure to both Connect with others yourself and make Connections for others. It will become more and more obvious as you engage in this practice!