make the connection

Check email. Debrief the boss. Go to the staff meeting. Return calls. Review sales numbers. Attend budget meeting. Check email. Participate in conference call with headquarters. Glance at online news headlines. Go to vendor meeting. Gobble granola bar. Conduct an employee coaching session. Check email. Review strategy assessment documents. Attend meeting with marketing department.

Is your typical work day something like this string of activities? Bouncing from one thing to another like those randomly dancing lottery balls just before the winning numbers are posted, all frenetic, unconnected energy?

In a crazy busy world where meaningful work relationships require commitment, novelist E.M. Forester’s phrase to “only connect” is a good reminder of what we need to do if we’re to do do good and do well.. 

In Everyone Communicates, Few Connect, leadership author John C. Maxwell says: “Connecting is the ability to identify with people and relate to them in a way that increases your influence with them.”

The Power of Connections

Are you as connected as you’d like to be?

If not, let the three-legged stool for building quality associations be your guide. Understanding what makes you tick is the starting block for building solid connections, so plan to start there. Follow that up with reconnecting with your colleagues, vendors, and clients.  Last, make it a point to reconnect with your boss.

Connecting with you

Snag a few minutes to re-engage with what’s important to you, personally, professionally, or both.

Psychologist Daniel Goleman’s work with emotional intelligence is highly instructive for individuals who are seeking better self-understanding:

The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice. And because we fail to notice that we fail to notice, there is little we can do to change until we notice how failing to notice shapes our thoughts and deeds. ~Daniel Goleman, Vital Lies, Simple Truths

Getting in touch with what we fail to notice about ourselves is a crucial first step to establishing powerful connections. To get in touch with what you might be missing about yourself, consider:

  • What’s my personal and professional north, and am I still on track?
  • What worthwhile things have I done today that I will continue doing?
  • Whose life did I touch today and help make it better?
  • What one thing, big or small, did I do today to renew my energy and increase my knowledge and/or skills?

Connect with colleagues

Spend a quality moment or two with a direct report, colleague, client or vendor. Establishing relationships and alliances with those around you at work—at every level within the organization and externally as well—is a make-or break element for career success.

In  Results Through Relationships, behavior strategist Joe Takash says: “Many people assume that only new contacts will help them achieve their goals, but in reality, many breakthroughs happen within existing networks.”

To connect with those around you:

  • Reach out and ask “how are you doing today?” Really listen to the answer and ask follow-up questions.
  • Say thank you.
  • Celebrate an accomplishment.
  • Spend a few minutes over a coffee to chat about sports, kids, a TV show, etc. Explore, discover and share interests to build a bond.

Connect with your boss

Engage your boss in a meaningful exchange. Warren Bennis reminds us: “No matter how brilliant you are, you need to remember the people.”

Be proactive and reach out to your boss:

  • Ask “How’s it going? Anything I can do to help?”
  • Invite her to a 10-minute coffee chat and seek to understand things from her perspective.
  • Ask him about his family or favorite book so you can establish some common ground and shared interests.

If meaningful connections are your goal, make it a habit to halt your bouncing balls for a few minutes each day and take the time to connect with someone. You’ll be glad you did and so will they.

How do you make and take the time to connect?

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