Did you know that having the ability to make meaningful connections is key to building strong, lasting relationships? Having the capacity to make meaningful connections forms the basis for effective collaboration.

Have you Chaired a Steering Committee where members need to collaborate in order to implement transformational change? Perhaps you organized professional, volunteer or major social events? Are you a project manager, responsible for overseeing construction projects or systems development? Perhaps you started a business. Maybe you paid big money to attend major conferences in hopes that you would make one or two major connections. If either of these scenarios ring true, then you understand the importance of making, having and valuing connections.

An Invitation to Connect:

Many receive invitations to participate in and or lead any number of proceedings, some more significant than others. Before making a commitment or accepting the invitation, it is wise to stop and obtain a sense of the lay of the land. Your knowledge, time and resources, including the connections you bring to the table, are valuable commodities these days. Always take a few moments to consider whether accepting an invitation is worthwhile for you. Here are a few key questions you may wish to consider:

  • Who is organizing the event?
  • Is the purpose clearly stated?
  • What is expected/not expected of you (short/long term)?
  • Who will be attending? and Why?
  • Are there benefits you or others will reap if you attend or do not attend?
  • Are there potential risks or pitfalls if you attend or do not attend?
  • Is there a protocol that needs to be followed?

Pausing to consider whether or not it is worth the investment of your time and resources to accept any invitation is wise on many levels. Taking action that aligns with your values, vision and clearly stated goals keeps the mind focused and agile. Working with people with whom you have developed a strong rapport helps you feel energized, inspired and motivated.

Connection Defined:

Brené Brown, American scholar, author, public speaker and research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work offers up one clear, comprehensive definition of connection:

The energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship. – Brené Brown

This definition speaks to emotional connections (feeling seen, heard and valued) and offers insights into the fact that making a connection involves building strong relationships by investing time to make a deep connection. “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell describes “connector” as being people who have numerous ties to different social groups. Connectors link people, ideas, and resources that wouldn’t normally bump into one another. Connectors are facilitators of collaboration and change.

Introverts have an innate ability to build rapport in relationships. A common misperception is that introverts are anti-social which is not true. Introverts seek out depth in relationships, they prefer smaller social circles with greater understanding and connection with each person. Extroverts enjoy large groups of acquaintances, ‘breadth,’ with less ‘depth,’ less emotional connection. Insignificant small chat is not an introvert’s thing, spending time developing real, meaningful conversations is how they operate.

Sageocracy:  Words of Wisdom

When people are overwhelmed with information and develop immunity to traditional forms of communication, they turn instead for advice and information to the people in their lives whom they respect, admire, and trust. The cure for immunity is finding mavens, connectors, and salesmen. – Malcolm Gladwel

Loneliness is proof that your innate search for connection is intact. – Martha Beck

Since you cannot do good to all, you are to pay special attention to those who, by the accidents of time, or place, or circumstances, are brought into closer connection with you. – Saint Augustine

Most women prefer circles of sharing to pyramids and hierarchies. They prefer conversation to construction. They will usually choose nurturance and empathy over competition and climbing. They will normally choose connection over simple performance games. – Richard Rohr

When you stop caring what people think, you lose your capacity for connection. When you’re defined by it, you lose your capacity for vulnerability. – Brene Brow

Trust and value your own divinity as well as your connection to nature. Seeing God’s work everywhere will be your reward. – Wayne Dyer

The intention and outcome of vulnerability is trust, intimacy and connection. The outcome of oversharing is distrust, disconnection – and usually a little judgment. – Brené Brown

A Full Circle: Making Meaningful Connections

Dale Carnegie, in his book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” clearly articulates the value of being able to make deep, meaningful connections:

You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.

No matter your personality preference (introvert, extrovert or ambivert[1]) or what your roles and responsibilities may be in life, humans thrive on depth of connection. Brené Brown in her book “Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead” speaks to this:

We believe that the most terrifying and destructive feeling that a person can experience is psychological isolation. This is not the same as being alone. It is a feeling that one is locked out of the possibility of human connection and of being powerless to change the situation. In the extreme, psychological isolation can lead to a sense of hopelessness and desperation. People will do almost anything to escape this combination of condemned isolation and powerlessness.

In-Leaders™ build rapport in relationships. They value and respect their connections.

[1] Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

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