In order to make powerful connections with anyone, there are a few principles that have to be in place.
By working with close to two hundred clients over the past two years to help them connect with Influencers and Inspiring Leaders, I have seen what works and what doesn’t work when making connections.
The people who are successful at connecting with Influencers and other ChangeMakers have three things in common in terms of how they approach people.
In this article, I want to share these three elements with you so you can make powerful connections everywhere you go.
By the way, I created a list of 180+ Places to Meet Fellow ChangeMakers. These events are unique because they are at the intersection between entrepreneurship, personal or professional growth and making a difference.
When we are curious in everything we do, many things take care of themselves. For instance, when you go to an event where you meet an influential person and you have a sense of curiosity, coming up with powerful questions is easy because they are a natural result of curiosity.
Have you ever met anyone who just could not stop talking about themselves even though you did not really ask them anything? How did that conversation go?
When you walk through life with a sense of curiosity, many things become easier.
Kids are naturally curious, they ask more Why questions than we adults sometimes can bare. Unfortunately, school and the industrial system are not meant to foster curiosity.
Regularly ask yourself “How can I be more curious in this situation?”.
When you’re on LinkedIn and connect with somebody new, instead of doing nothing with it, ask yourself “What would a curious person do?”
When you’re at an event and meet new people, instead of having small talk, ask yourself “What would a curious person do?”
Nobody is interested in connecting with a selfish person. Nobody cares about people who are takers.
Generosity is an essential element in connecting because every healthy relationship is built on it.
By being generous, you care about others and want to create value. This makes you very appealing to others. We love being around people who care and want to help.
Have you ever met somebody who just wanted to sell you something or hand out as many business cards as possible? How did that make you feel?
When you enter conversations with “How can I help you?” instead of “How can you help me?”, the connection can go deeper and trust is created.
Regularly ask yourself “How can I create more value for the people in my life?” and you will develop a habit of generosity that will impact every new person you meet and will lead to more powerful connections.
When you connect with people on LinkedIn and find out more about them by being curious, follow up with being generous.
When you meet somebody at an event and learn more about what matters most to them, use your generosity to find new ways to create value for them. And then keep in touch by doing the exact same thing.
This is something Seth Godin talks a lot about in The Icarus Deception. One of my favorite quotes is “Art is the act of doing work that matters while dancing with the voice in your head that screams for you to stop.”
This is why Art is an essential element in making world-class connections. You want to have something worthwhile to talk about.
This does not mean you have to have achieved lots of things. What is means is that you have a dream, a vision for the future and a way to get there. It means that you act on your leadership abilities.
If you are hiding behind permission or authority to do work that matters, what are you going to talk about when they ask you to talk about yourself?
Let’s look at the difference. So you want to connect with inspiring leaders and influencers and you get the chance to be face to face with them. Now, what do you say when they ask you to tell them about yourself?
Are you going to say “I’m a middle manager” or “I’m a consultant” or “I’m an entrepreneur”? Are you merely using what you do to talk about who you are?
What if you talk about your Art instead?
What if you say “I envision a world where people connect based on shared values and vision. We have never been more connected than today and at the same time, we have never been more disconnected. I believe we don’t need more stuff. We need more humanity. I’m building a central hub for entrepreneurs and leaders to connect and collaborate with others who share their values and vision so they can create the change they want to see in the world together.”
Or what if you said “I want people to think bigger. Most people think small and play small. The people who think bigger make big change. I’m building tools and resources for people to improve their public speaking so they develop the confidence to share their big ideas and dreams with the world.”
This is what I mean by Art. Paint a picture of the future and create a way for people to get there so they can follow.
This is the Art of Leadership.
Three Questions to Ask
Now you know what the pillars of powerful connections are. It’s time to apply them in real life.
Next time you attempt to make a connection or simply get around new people, ask yourself three questions before you do.
1. How Can I Be More Curious in This Situation?
2. How Can I Create Value for These People?
3. What’s My Vision for the Future and How Do I Help People Get There?