The Power of Connections

Do You Know the Right People? And Do the Right People Know You?

By: Marci Malzahn

Connections are powerful. I love to hear the stories of business partners who start by saying, “we were buddies in high school” or “we’ve known each other since we were in elementary school” or “we were roommates in college.” From the moment we start relating to people in Kindergarten we start making connections. Some last a lifetime. Others, we only have for a season in our lives. Nevertheless, each person we meet, each connection we make, can help us in the future and we can be of help to them as well.

Every relationship we make throughout our lives is significant. Unfortunately, some relationships leave a negative mark in our lives. But most of them are usually positive. We hope to influence others in a positive way and to help people along the way throughout our life’s journey.

As you grow in your career, you will want to start building a network of other professionals and colleagues whom you trust. You can have different networks of people. There are people you want to have in your network because they could potentially employ you in the future or vice versa, you could hire them to work for you. You may have a separate group of people you network with to brainstorm ideas about your company or the industry you’re in. You will need to be strategic about who you know and also to ensure the right people within your organization and in your industry know you.

People want to do business with people they trust. The best way to get new clients is by word of mouth and a personal referral. Regardless of the situation you’re currently in, I encourage you to grow your network and nurture your existing relationships. Nurtured relationships become more than a connection. Those people can become lifelong friendships, trusted advisers, and future business partners.

Here are some tips to maximize and nurture your network:

  • Find ways to connect with the people you already have in your network. Truly get to know them and take an interest in their personal life. Learn about them.
  • Listen to people’s stories if they’re open to share and respect them when they don’t want to share.
  • Always be willing to share your story. You never know when your story will change someone’s life.
  • Connect people from your network to others. Connections you make will bear fruit. People appreciate being connected and will keep you at the top of their list when they have an opportunity to connect you to others.
  • Schedule time to nurture your relationships. Yes, it takes time to build connections but it’s worth it. You are investing in people’s lives.
  • Be strategic. Plan ahead and find the right people to connect in an organization—whether you are connecting to make a sale or to be hired.
  • Connect people in your network with others. Be willing to share your connections.
  • Invest in creating a professional profile in your LinkedIn account. This is part of your personal brand.
  • Take advantage of networking opportunities in your company, industry events, and conferences.
  • Be genuine. People know when you’re not interested in them.

There are many things you can do to improve and nurture your network of people. It takes time and effort but you will always reap the rewards. Also, the satisfaction of connecting two people who end up working together, starting a new business venture, or simply forming a new friendship is very fulfilling. In business, always remember to make the right connections and ask yourself the question, “Do I know the right people? And do the right people know me?” The answer is within your reach.

Marci Malzahn is a banking executive and founder of Malzahn Strategic, a community bank consultancy focused on strategic planning, enterprise risk management and talent management. You can contact Marci through her website at http://www.malzahnstrategic.com, and for speaking engagements please contact Preferred Speakers at http://www.preferredspeakers.com.