Pay-off: Immediately actionable advice to connect yourself to more rewarding opportunities
Investment: 4 minutes
Everything is connected
Or at least it has the potential to be. (You could discover how things are connected, or find a way to connect things, or people.)
If you’re not building connections between things, ideas, problems, solutions, or people, then you’re probably building barriers between them.
That can have benefits (perhaps not everything should be connected?) But it surely has major consequences too (perhaps some things should be connected in order to create value?).
Why do people do this?
Today, I attended a workshop. I was the first to arrive and sat on a table with five empty chairs around it. The next person turned up, and instead of sitting at my table, sat at another table with five empty chairs around it.
I considered the invisible barrier he’d just built between us.
Then the third and fourth people arrived and each sat at their own separate tables too. More barriers built around us all.
The three people who arrived after me created six barriers between us (if my maths is right). The barriers were invisible but powerful in the moment. It was a pro job at keeping ourselves isolated from potential value or potential opportunity.
This reminds me too of when I was on business once eating at a curry restaurant filled with about six or seven male customers, all eating alone at separate tables. I remember wondering if in an alternative reality we all chose to sit around one table since we all clearly had some things in common – we were all on our own and we all liked curry. It’s a start!
Back to the workshop – I see this pattern of behaviour happen all the time when I run workshops myself and watch each person arrive one by one. I’ve always enjoyed watching how a room fills up with people when they have a choice where they sit, and how people create connections or barriers between themselves. Incidentally, this information tells me something about them which is useful if I’m about to help them learn how to sell.
Creating barriers to opportunities (and then complaining later about the lack of opportunities)
People often have the opportunity to sit next to each other (in cases like this) or simply engage and connect with each other. But when making the choice themselves, they often seem to gravitate away from doing so when they don’t know each other.
What a shame that they’d rather not proactively make the connection themselves and instead wait to be engaged (or sat next to) by someone else, then react accordingly.
When you’re in that situation next, why not seize the opportunity to introduce yourself and explore how you could be connected (what you have in common)? And perhaps as your conversation develops you could learn how to make useful connections for each other too? You never know how the start of a relationship turns into something highly rewarding months or years later. Everyone you know, like or trust started with an initial interaction.
Creating connections to create value
I’ve written before about creating coincidences by engaging others and putting information out there in case it means something to someone. It often does. In the world of business development (and frankly, perhaps I should revise that to ‘the world of work’ or just ‘the world’), no one goes anywhere until they somehow connect something to something else first.
Before progressing, you must start connecting! You must start connecting:
- with others
- shared visions and win: wins
- people to other people
- ideas and information
- the dots
- what you don’t know to what you do know
- what you learn to new actions
- in person, frequently enough
- others with insights or solutions
- yourself with your next steps
- your steps to your desired journey or destination
There’s a lot of connecting to be done. Whether on your job description or not, your job is to connect.
And in my experience, those who develop the mindset and habit to connect create a lot of value around them, which gets noticed and often rewarded further down the line. Connecting creates you luck for when you need it.
Those who don’t connect, tend to inadvertently create barriers. Barriers grow quickly as the default. Then it becomes even harder to connect. Connecting early eliminates those barriers.
These ‘disconnectors’ isolate themselves from opportunities, experiences, relationships, and potential value. Disconnectors become disconnected.
Perhaps that’s fine with them all the while they’re seemingly ticking along. But when circumstances shift around them (and I’m sure you can hear the rumble of things shifting around you) they’re usually the ones who struggle – hemmed in by the very barriers they created.
If you’re reading this because you’re interested in my perspective and advice, here it is: connect more than you’re currently connecting. Introduce yourself to new people. Connect on Linkedin when you meet people. Connect people you know to others who you think they should be talking to. Connect your solutions more effectively to those you provide them to. Connect what you learn with others who might benefit. Share your learning. Connect value to your network.
It will pay off and connect you to opportunities and outcomes you’ll be thankful for further down the line. Probably right when you need them the most.
(You could kick start your new habit by connecting this article with your own network, some of whom will likely connect it with theirs – just give it a share using the buttons on the edge of the screen. Thank you!)
Any questions or thoughts, you can leave a comment below or get in touch with me here.