Ask yourself this – How deep can you take an initial connection (whether that be in-person or on social media) and develop a deeper relationship? The goal is to ‘connect’ with people.
‘Connect’ as defined by Google (referring to a relationship) to;
- Bring together or into contact so that a real or notional link is established.
- Join together so as to provide access and communication.
- Associate or relate in some respect.
- Form a relationship or feel an affinity.
Connection is the difference between meeting someone and getting to know someone. Connection is more than an introduction, it is bringing people together – it is an invitation to form a relationship, and a relationship is mutually beneficial to both the connector and the prospect, allowing them to enhance each other.
Connection is an art because it requires a skill set that allows you to intentionally gather valuable information about the person you are connecting to… finding out what they want to accomplish and, what their needs are and what they desire for their lives.
Gathering this information is an important step in knowing how to add value to their lives, And adding value, my friends, is the most important aspect to connection and building relationships.
Adding value is what you should be seeking to do – everyday of your life.
Let’s just say that you are at an event and you have just started a conversation with a prospect you hope will be a new connection. If you start out by saying -“Tell me everything about you,” – chances are you are going to get a resounding NO!
People are generally guarded, so it is a good idea to start out with an exchange of common questions and answers. It’s all about asking the right questions at the right time – with the right intention.
You can start out with;
- Where did you grow up?
- Do you have any pets?
- Do you have any siblings?
- What type of phone do you have?
- What did you do this past weekend?
- What are your plans for this weekend?
- What do you like to do in your spare time?
- What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
- What is the last thing you do before you go to sleep?
- What was the last thing you purchased?
- What is your favorite holiday?
- What is your favorite day of the week?
- If you could meet anyone in history, who would it be?
- What do you like to do to relax?
- Are you a saver or a spender?
- Do you play any instruments?
Courtesy of conversationstarters.com
Your intention should be to add VALUE! And in order to add value, you need to understand the information that is necessary to add value… you must know what the prospect needs.
So, after you ‘shoot the breeze’, the number one question that will never fail you (drumroll please…….)
How can I help you?
That question alone has started more connections than any other question you can ask. It is more than a question, it is a way of being… it is a lifestyle!
Remember: Connecting with people is about understanding their motivations, and providing VALUE whenever, and wherever possible. However, we cannot simply ‘give’ endlessly. We have to build our lives (and our relationships) connections that reciprocate.
Most of us are looking for deep connections with:
- People we can trust implicitly
- People we can rely on
- People who sincerely appreciate us for who we are
Building a Network vs The Art of Connecting
There is a distinct difference between networking and connecting. Networking is basically a numbers game – you are assembling a list of people who may or may not be able to help you, and, who you may or may not be able to help.
It is important to note that you can’t connect with people unless you are networking with them. So gather up all of your networking acquaintances (as you did in Week #2), evaluate them to see if you have any real ‘connection prospects’.
In reality, you cannot convert all of your sphere of influence (including product users) into business builders. What you really want are a handful of great individual connections with the potential to become business builders.
So, we start with a big pool of networking candidates, and over time we develop relationships with a small group of people that we can work with to become business builders.
Over time we continue to build strong networks because it is from those networks that we create lasting and productive connections.
Think Strategically about your Connections
The best leaders that are consistently (and strategically) looking for great people to fill the gaps in their own personal capabilities. In turn, you should also spend time thinking about the kinds of value you can add to your connections… it’s a constant process.
For instance, you may be great at sharing all of the product benefits with your sphere of influence, but maybe you aren’t so good at converting those people into business builders.
So, look for someone to connect with that can help your group with business building.
Qualify the people in your Network
The best way to help the people we want to create value for (and with) sometimes requires an analytical approach.
Qualification isn’t a process to say that one person is “better” than the others… it just means that you need to take a step back and evaluate where everyone fits within your network so that you can figure out how to increase VALUE for each and every one of them.
Qualification is the process of determining what the strengths are of each person in your network, and organizing those contacts by their strengths so that you can add value to their lives, encouraging those strengths.
Ways to Organize Your Relationships
Since you are in the process of learning how to form true connections with people in your life, lets first cover the basic information you need to gather in order to organize your network.
NAME: It is important that you address your connections the way they prefer to be addressed.
TITLE: Exactly what do they do? What position do they hold? Who do they have influence over?
COMPANY: Do they operate their own business, or have are they employed?
SPECIALTY: What skills do they possess that they are currently using? What is their area of expertise? What makes them special?
IMPORTANT GOALS/PROJECTS: What is important to them? What are the 3 most important things they need to accomplish in the next year to get them where they want to be?
FAVORITE CHARITY/CAUSE: What causes call them to action? What groups do they support? Understanding who they want to serve will offer you valuable insight into who they are and what drives them. Choosing a charity is choosing who they give their heart to, without financial or material benefit to them.
FAMILY/PERSONAL INFORMATION: Married? Spouses Name? Children? Birthdate? These are personal touches that you need to note.
CONTACT INFORMATION: You need to know what is the best way to communicate with them. Find out how to contact them, but also, which method of communication they prefer.
Those is the basics, and what follows are some more factors that you must consider when organizing your network:
NEEDS: Maybe anything from ‘more money to pay bills’, ‘a job that can be worked from home ’, ‘affordable medical insurance’.
WANTS: Maybe anything from ‘a luxury car’, ‘more time to spend with family and friends’, ‘freedom-based lifestyle’.
LIKES: Common interests are one of the most powerful ways that we connect with people.
DISLIKES: Knowing what someone dislikes can be just as important as knowing what someone likes.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Awards, college degrees, achievements in sports, etc.
GOALS: Accomplishments look to the past and goals look to the future. Goals can be powerful, motivating forces in our lives; retirement, vacation cabin, college education for their children.
NETWORKS: Clubs, alumni groups, shared social causes, think in terms of networks that you may be interested in getting involved with.
BACKGROUND: Hometown, life experiences, family/friends. A person’s background is not only useful to know for general conversation, things like travel, family, cultural differences are can be very interesting to hear and learn about.
Here is an example of contact notes in the above eight dimensions:
|Prospect: Mary Smith|
– Raising small children needs to be able to work from home.
– Needs reliable transportation
– Take kids to Disneyland this summer.
– New living room furniture.
– Going to country-western concerts
– Likes Honda Pilots
– To travel
– Not a fan of fast food
– Do not call after 6 pm
– Has a teaching degree
– Won a writing contest in college
– Wants to help feed the homeless
– Wants to set up a cooking blog to share recipes
– Member of the Catholic Church
– On the school committee for fundraisers.
– Raised on a farm
– Spent 3 years teaching kindergarten
Now I want you to imagine that you have these notes on hundreds of contacts… you would probably be able to see commonalities, patterns and/or groupings.It doesn’t take that much time to jot down a few notes about someone, especially if you have had several interactions with them. These notes are especially important when you don’t see a prospect on a regular basis.
Using Mary Smith as an example, here are a few ways to utilize what we know about Mary:
- Mary needs reliable transportation – can you put her in touch with a connection that is getting ready to sell their car (preferably a Honda Pilot)?
- Mary wants to take her children to Disneyland – can you stop by the bank and get ticket discounts that would make that vacation more affordable?
- Mary wants to set up a cooking blog but doesn’t have the technical knowledge to do that – can you share a connection that could get her set up and bring her up to speed on blog creation?
- Mary wants to help feed the homeless – can you share a non-profit connection that participates in serving food to the homeless?
As you can see, there are many opportunities to create new value in your relationship with Mary. The beauty of connections and relationship building is that every time you form a new relationship – you are able to bring that person into your entire network. Mary and her network have the potential to help you or a member of your network. It’s just a matter of finding the right connection.
Keep in mind when you are connecting people to other people in your network – you are not just bringing two people together, you are attaching your reputation to every contact you pass along. You want to connect people who are interested in networking, as well as taking action in order to better themselves and those around them.
Don’t just complete the Prospect Forms – Use Them
If you are really serious about building your connections and developing relationship networks, fill out a Prospect Form on all of your network prospects – make the Prospect Form a habit! Set aside a few minutes each day and organize your notes about the people you interact with. I recommend spending the first few minutes of your morning.
When you are on the go, you will need a quick reference with regard to all of your contacts, including your connections. I recommend that you organize them in your cell phone. When I am out and about – say I speak with someone and realize that they are interested business building – I edit their contact form, adding a code to their contact name. For instance – Michele Foster BB – BB stands for Business Builder. Then, whenever I want to reach out for the purpose of growing my business I can just look through my phone for anyone marked BB and give them a call.
With smartphones and organizers, you can add many details about the people you are connected with and have that information in the palm of your hand.
NOTE: If you can’t say something positive about a person – don’t say anything at all. The notes you make can accidentally be viewed by someone else – so keep your notes honest, but do yourself a favor and keep them positive.
Surround Yourself with People Doing Great Things
Ideas are important, but they are only the first step on the long road to success and prosperity. Surround yourself with people who are willing to take action on their big ideas.
All of us may know people who are ‘stuck’ – for one reason or another they keep themselves from achieving many of the things they could do if they just set their mind to it.
Are you one of those ‘stuck’ people? If you are, stop stalling and take action! And if you are reaching out to people who aren’t willing to take action – don’t spend too much time building a relationship.
You want to surround yourself with people who are interested in doing great things AND are willing to get out there and get it done. Look for people who take action and align yourself with them.
One Final Note – Don’t Stop Reaching Out
The Art of Connection means that you have to be consistent in your follow up with people you are trying to build a relationship with. Realize that most sales are closed after seven to nine contacts, that is average. Send thank you cards, candy, emails, voice messages, visit in person… the sooner you get in those seven to nine contacts, the sooner you have a connection.
Building a relationship with a strategic prospect is a sale.
In addition to the value that you can bring to the relationship, you are selling yourself! You are asking for something that is very valuable to them – their time and attention. Realize that people are busy – do not take it personally when you are unable to reach them right away – keep on trying.
- Print the Prospect Form, then I want you to complete a Prospect Form for each of your top 10 business contacts.
- Evaluate your Top 10 business contacts to determine whether or not they are doing great things, and whether or not they are Business Builder candidates
- Reach out to your Top 10 business contacts and add VALUE – connect them with someone that can help them meet their goals or fulfill a need.
- Over the next 30 days, increase the number of relationships you have evaluated to 25. You will immediately see that your ability to connect has been right in front of you the whole time.
NOTE: You may not be able to complete all of the sections in the Prospect Form – complete what you can, then you can focus on gathering the rest of that information from your Top 10 business contacts.
Reference: The Art of Connection, eBook by Larry Benet