Published on 21st November 2018
It’s funny what social media is doing to our sense of connectivity. On the one hand, I’ve never had so many ‘friends,’ and if the various platforms I use are to be believed, then my ‘likeability’ is at a lifetime high.
The flip-side, however, is that I’m actually less sure of the nature of those relationships than ever before, and as time goes on I’m starting to re-think who I want to connect with, and why?
Now I’m by no means the most connected person I know, but over the past two decades of working in recruitment and staffing, I’ve managed to meet a fair few people. Once upon a time, it was a handshake and the exchange of business cards, it was to all intents a physical connection. Today the business cards have all but been resigned to my desk drawer and I’m much more likely to engage in the formation of a new connection through a ping, a poke, a share or a double-tap! The personal connection, the reach-out and touch someone, has been marginalised in many instances.
But time marches on, and social media, as just one example of the new communication protocols of our time, is for many an invaluable tool in building and exploiting a relationship or network (hopefully for good not evil).
So how can you ensure you are building a network of friends, colleagues and genuine connections, that will enhance rather than hinder your business, your career or your life!
- Connections are not relationships. If you want the latter then be prepared to work for it. In the beginning, there were connections, then people worked at building relationships from those connections by the purposeful communication of useful information. In plain English, you have to decide what kind of relationship you’re looking to build and then plan how to build it. Want to be part of a knowledge sharing community, work out what you have to contribute. Looking to sell your services, decide who might be a potential customer and what they might gain from engaging with you. Looking for a friend, sign up for a social networking site.
- Quality content is the key. Too often I receive poorly planned, auto-generated email content that screams, ‘I want to build a connection with you, but I can’t be bothered to put any effort into doing so’. Just because a connection starts on-line should make little difference to the level of authenticity required to convert this into a relationship. Think about your physical network of friends and family, would you communicate with any of them in such an impersonal and scripted manner?
- Why are you trying to connect in the first place? Just like planning a holiday, following a recipe or building a house, there are steps required to ensure you do it right, that it ends up looking like you anticipated and that it’s fit for purpose. Relationships are no different. Don’t throw your connection requests around like confetti, treat them with a value. After all, don’t you have something worth sharing that deserves reciprocity? Far too frequently of late, I’m questioning why I should accept a connection from someone or similarly why they should accept an invitation from me. If you find yourself questioning then stop, work out the answer first, then decide whether to continue.
- Genuine beats genius every time. Remember that the foundation of any enduring relationship of value, is that those foundations are laid in honest, genuine good-will. Sales talk, marketing spiel and an attempt to blind someone with flashing lights and hollow promises will make for a weak foundation. Be upfront about why you want to build a relationship and recognise that it may take some time for that relationship to realise the benefit you are seeking.
In a time when it’s never been so easy to reach out to people through technology, oftentimes we risk building networks of limited value, founded on weak links and tenuous benefits. Don’t be afraid to use your network in a smarter manner, take a fresh look at the year ahead and decide who you want in and who you don’t. Imagine you have a limited number of tickets to the hottest party in town, be considered in who you invite. Oh, that party I’m talking about, special guest, star of the show, it’s YOU.