Connect with those around you, and unlock greater potential.

A very practical and often overlooked skill that every leader should dedicate time to improve is connecting to build stronger relationships with others.?

Leaders in general are not all well-rounded in every skill. So, what makes a strong leader can vary in different roles. If you?re like me, you are determined to build your success while developing your own personal leadership skills.?

Connecting with individuals of all different walks of life and backgrounds is not a God given talent. It is something we must practice and develop. Whether it?s through influence, emotional intelligence, or finding similarities – learning to connect on a personal level with individuals will make you a stronger leader. The truth is connecting with our peers, friends, coworkers, neighbors and family can be difficult if we don?t work on building relationships.

Connect with others and unlock stronger lasting relationships.

Any time you start interacting with an individual you are using different methods of communication to connect with them. Body language, facial expression, tone and written. It is possible to lose the ability to connect. But, in many ways, as leaders we should have intuition and ability to make every interaction the opportunity for a powerful connection.

We are all mothers, fathers, daughters and sons. We operate in business across industries and levels like manager, vice president, or owner. It doesn?t matter who you are, or what your title is today. What ultimately matters is in your career and personal growth trajectory is having the ability to? improve the way you connect and influence others for positive results.?

Being a connector, whether in virtual or personal exchanges, in today?s digital landscape of influence, is even more important in your professional development and leadership potential.?The ability to connect with someone on a personal level will always increase your influence in future opportunities and situations with that same person. According to Harvard Business Review, the number one criteria for advancement and promotion professionally is the ability to communicate effectively.

Let?s take a look back in presidential campaign history during the time Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan ran for president. During their debate Carter came across as cold and impersonal constantly calling facts and figures. In contrast, Reagan connected with the audience and the American people. He was called ?the great communicator.? American Presidential historian Robert Dallek, says ?that successful presidents exhibit five skills and qualities that enable them to achieve things that others don’t. They are vision, pragmatism, consensus-building, charisma and trustworthiness.? Cited from Dallek’s book,?Hail to the Chief: The Making and Unmaking of American Presidents. New York: Hyperion, 1996, ppxx-xxi. (2nd Edition, Oxford University Press, 2001.)

Connecting is the ability to identify with people and relate to them in such a way that it increases our influence with them. Which is why I believe the art of connecting is a skill, not a talent. I love this quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson, ?all great speakers were bad speakers at first.? We must develop our listening and response skills in order to connect.

Some people connect intuitively. They have high interpersonal intelligence. They seem to value people automatically. Others recognize connecting as important but lack the tools and techniques. This may be where you are today but it doesn?t mean you are incapable of growing into a people-connector. Finally, there are some people that don’t recognize connecting as important. They think they can do it all on their own and their success is solely dependent on their own efforts. But, I think we can agree, the better we are able to connect with people, the better our results.

Here are some things to reflect and practice when the opportunity to connect is yours.?

Let’s go over five key things:

    • Relationship, who you know
    • Insight, what you know?
    • Success, what you have done
    • Ability, what you can do?
    • Sacrifice, how you live and what you?ve given up

Utilize mutual relationships: A quick way to gain credibility with an individual or group, or audiences, is through someone who has credibility with them. Who you know can open the door for you to connect with someone? I have personally sold millions of dollars of revenue for my employer through building my skill as a connector. This was done by actively building and creating well-maintained relationships. I get phone calls monthly, if not weekly, from business partners wanting me to help them make connections. Relationships can be very powerful in whatever industry you are in.

Be authentic in your strengths: Excellence connects individuals. Someone who performs at a high level in his profession often will receive instant credibility. People admire them. They want to be like them. Consider a great sports athlete like Michael Jordan. When this individual speaks, others listen because of his knowledge or use of the products he endorses. He?s made more money from endorsements than he ever made playing professional basketball. All because of what he can do with a basketball. Regardless of your basketball athleticism, you are drawn to his brands, influence, and methods. The lesson here is to embody excellence in your connection with others and you?ll see positive outcomes.

The more factors you utilize the better you become at connecting with people. Leverage strong connections to build new relationships. Play to your strengths. Develop your own style. Finally, cultivate these skills as much as possible in order to connect with people.??

Max De Pree is the author of Leadership Is An Art, and the former CEO of Herman Miller, and he said ?there may be no single thing more or in our efforts to achieve meaning for work and fulfilling relationship then to learn to practice the art of communication.??

If you want to connect with someone, you have to connect on common ground, where each other’s emotional capstones intersect. I will always be “that guy.” The guy seated next to you on the airplane, asking where you are from? where you’re going? and, what do you do? Learning about people is how you connect. Develop this skill as a communicator and connector.?

The friction you experience in your day-to-day life comes down to leadership, connecting and influence. You can learn to lead. You can learn to connect. You can improve your ability to influence people. But you will only improve as a leader if you take the time and effort to work on the skill of connecting with others to build stronger relationships for greater opportunities.

Keep learning other principles and practices of leadership with me on the Build Your Success Blog & Podcast. Did this peak your interest in learning to connect as a leader? Listen to the full podcast here. Are you a leader at home or in your place of business? Apply to be a guest on the Build Your Success podcast here.??

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Remember to build yourself, and then build others. – Brian Brogen