When I took the photo above, I was standing along the banks of the York River in Yorktown, Virginia. On the other side is Gloucester, Virginia. I had three options if I wanted to get across the river:
- Least desirable – I could try and swim across the York River and most likely become a drowning statistic
- Moderately desirable – I could take a boat across
- Most desirable and easiest – I could drive across the bridge that connects with the other side
Leaders Connect With People
In my book, The Furnace of Leadership Development, I wrote, “to be a successful leader we must connect with people, and doing so means building relationships. There is no other way to positively impact and influence the lives of those you lead.”1
I know an individual who complains that he doesn’t have any friends and that he can’t connect with anyone. Yet, he does not try to engage anyone in conversation, and he is in a position of authority where he works. But wait! I said ‘work’ and that is where he connects with people. Beyond that environment, he struggles.
He makes comments such as, “we don’t have anything in common,” “they don’t do what I do,” “I like to do _______ and they probably don’t.” How about you? Do you say the same thing? Until we reach out and engage people in a conversation and get to know them, everything in quotations is only an assumption.
How to Connect With People
Invariably someone will say, “I’m an introvert and I don’t like meeting people.” I always considered myself to be an introvert and I used that excuse a lot. I complained that I didn’t know anyone outside of the fire department (no, the guy in the paragraph above isn’t me, but I thought those things).
Since authoring a book and starting my business, I have had to come out of my shell and meet people. Most of my connecting happens through networking, and I do a lot of that! I’m a member of Master Networks2 and the group has an acronym called BOND:
- Build on common interests
- Occupation exploration
- Needs discovery
- Develop opportunities
What can you take away from the above? Build on common interests and find out what the other person does for an occupation. Also, ask questions, listen to them, and be genuinely interested in what they have to say.
I Can Help You
As an experienced, recovering introvert who networks multiple times a week, I can help you connect with other people. I’m a certified member of the Maxwell Leadership Team and can administer the Maxwell DISC Personality Profile Assessment. From there we can build on the methods to improve your communication skills. Remember, successful leaders know how to connect with people.
1Rick Davis, The Furnace of Leadership Development, (Loveland, CO: Java House Publishing, 2019), 145