Understanding and executing the art of connecting is a skill that can learned and practiced. What is the art of connecting? In previous blog posts that I have written about Building Networks, I talk about steps to use and maintain your network, but what about the actual connect? How do you take the first initial meeting to a meaningful connection or even better yet, how do you make the connections you REALLY want to make?

It might be easier than you think. Don’t get me wrong, making meaningful connections and maintaining them takes time, but if you are willing to make an effort, you will be connected in the places that will expand your candidate reach, your sales or whatever your goal is.

Let’s start with “who knows you?” Typically when you network it’s always about “who do you know?” Let’s take it and flip it for a second and look at who knows you. Why would someone want to connect with you? What value do you provide them? If you know what value you provide it’s a lot easier to make connections come to you. People want to have meaningful connections that add value. Think about someone you would like to connect with. Why do you want to connect with them? Can they provide you an opportunity of some sort? Maybe a job, or advice or perhaps a sale or maybe they are just a great candidate… Probably something along those lines I am guessing. Now tell me, why would they want to connect with you? What value can you provide to them? Sometimes making and establishing a connection is doing something for them first. Once you provide value, people will want to stay connected to you or even make that initial connection.

Another important thing to do when making connections is to be your authentic self. It’s easy to tell when someone is not being themselves or for that matter when they ARE being their authentic self. Fact of the matter is…what you say to others is a reflection of who they think you are. While you speak, they are forming their opinion of you. What questions do you ask? What ideas do you bring to the table? How are your communication skills? Are you passionate about what you do? All of those things reflect and form the opinion of who you are and if someone will want to connect. I call it the “attractiveness factor”. Once you have the attractiveness factor people will want to connect with you that may not necessarily be the best connections. It comes with the territory. Ensure you have guidelines for who your important connections are.

I could go on, but one of the last important things I will cover is doing what you say you are going to do. I am the first to admit, sometimes this gets away from me and it takes constant follow through, but it is a critical component to making connections. If you say you will follow-up next week, follow-up next week. If you say you are going to make an introduction, make the introduction.

You are on your way to establishing meaningful connections and the connections you want to make. Just remember to provide value, be your authentic self and do what you say you are going to do.

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