Be a Connector

In continuation of the series Keep your Business Relationship Healthy and Sustainable let’s continue the 10 things to bring to a healthy business relationship.  For today’s post, we are going out of order, as that is part of what makes for good conversations…a little twists and turns.

Be a Connector by bringing people together, building a tribe and following for good. 

In today’s world we are increasingly moving to a connected society.  Social media has brought into full view for everyone to see who you are and more importantly what your network of relationships looks like.  I have said this before, but I think it is worth repeating, for me life is all about relationship and experiences.  If you have meaningful and enriching relationships and if you create amazing and life long impressions and experiences for them, you will have a successful life.

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What is described above is not the pedestrian term of “Networking”.  This is an overused word with no real “connection” to people’s hearts, minds and souls.  What we are talking about are real connections to people that you meet for either a moment or a lifetime.  To be a Connector means making connections with many different people you come across each day.  In my mind people come into your life for one of three reasons:

1)   to give you a gift

2)   to give you a message

3)   to teach you a lesson

Look forward to making a connection with those you encounter.  You will discover we all have a basic set of needs that we are looking to have met:

1)   to be heard

2)   to be understood

3)   to be seen

Employees, who have relationships that physically span deep, wide and are far-reaching, are very attractive as they have a tribe that is deep and plentiful.  Should they have an issue that cannot be solved alone, they can call upon their tribe of common hearts, minds and souls who are eager, at varying levels, to help them.  Should they want to voice their joy over a great product, a great company, a great experience, they are there ready to listen and more importantly rely on our word of endorsement.  Should they have a great gift to give such as a tip of a job opening, a business opportunity, or a referral they are eager to help share the news with those that matter to them.  A real tribe is one to help others and if the situation arises, to be gracious and accept help.  Being attractive means have a wide and deep tribe ready and willing.

As we begin the next decade, the feeling and necessity of community will be critical to our success.  With information doubling every two years according to Moore’s law and our own human ability to become experts still taking about 10 years, according Malcolm Gladwell, we need our tribe of connections to help us be successful in the work environment.  If you haven’t started your tribe, no worries, like retirement, it is better to start now than not start at all.  Sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Brazencareerist, and LinkedIn are great ways to get connected to those you already know.  As you meet people, make a connection with them and start to add those you feel comfortable with to your tribe.  Start building your tribe by saying hello, asking about the person, showing genuine interested in their lives, and most importantly listen and learn.  They have gift to give, a message to convey or a lesson to teach.  For those you make that real connection with, keep the ties and stay connected.

Employees are attractive not only because of who they are, whom they know and what they bring to the table, but also because the size and depth of their tribe speaks volumes of what type of person they are.  Building good and long standing relationships tells people that they value people and they work hard to “water their plants”.  For those employees who have wide and deep tribes, they know how to connect people and stay connected to them.  Anything worth having takes work including keeping your tribe connected.  For potential and future leaders, a deep and wide fellowship, is anecdotal to how they inspire and lead.  Recently, I was talking to a former VP of mine about the idea of measuring the health of an organization (a extremely large tribe) through an online site so that employees could see the health and real insights of a large tribe called a Company.  People would have to be real, honest and fearless.  It was an interesting conversation but sounded a little too out there for him.  Well, I just discovered glassdoor.com which is an insider’s look at a Company’s tribe, the jobs and its leader.  Glassdoor started its company just three years ago (June 11, 2008) and now has about 1 million members.  I think this concept will grow legs as people start to look closely at the tribes of different companies and ask themselves is this the company I am proud to be apart of?

Another example, and easy extension coming in the near future, is communal rating of leaders by tribal members, similar to what ratemyprofessors.com does today for professors.  Started in 1999 with now over 1 million professors and over 11 million opinions, it is quite surprising why we have not started to see leaders rated already.

As employees build their own tribe of connections, and as they give endorsements and commentary on others, my only caution to the community is to be fair in assessments and feedback.  Feedback that is constructive, respectful and growth oriented is what is needed in this new world if we are going to develop a real community of possibilities.  Anything less than mentor-like and aspirational will speak volumes of the person providing feedback and will be less than attractive.

And finally, for some, building a tribal communal feel comes from things teaching and blogging.  Connecting with readers in intimate ways is something special.  I am not talking about sharing all your inner child secrets, but rather shared experiences, shared knowledge and interest, shared feelings, shared concerns, shared opinions and most importantly shared hopes, dreams and aspirations.  As companies come courting, those who have blogs, websites and other online communities with readers, commentators, followers, supporters and constructive critics are more attractive.

As leaders, we want attractive people on our teams.  For me, I find those that help others, have a wide and large tribe of connections and those that take risks and voice their ideas, insight and knowledge are interesting…and I am interested in interesting.

Being attractive means helping others, bringing others together, and sharing ideas.  Be a Connector and you will be attractive to a whole-lotta folks.

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