I don't care what your goals, industry or interests are, there's no getting around it: Personal relationships run the world. But why is it that some people seem to build instant rapport with most anyone they come across, while others are left with a network of one?
Regardless of status or fame, people are people. And the 7 pillars of making a connection with another person are always the same — whether applied to your next-door neighbor, one of the world's biggest celebrities or even the cute girl sitting at the bar:
- Be genuine. The only connections that work will be the ones that you truly care about; the world will see through anything short of that. If you don't have a genuine interest in the person with whom you're trying to connect, then stop trying.
- Provide massive help. Even the biggest and most powerful people in the world have something they'd like help with. Too many people never reach out to those above them due to the fear that they wouldn't be able to offer anything in return. But you have more to offer than you realize: write an article or blog post about them, share their project with your community, offer to spread their message through a video interview with them. Give real thought to who you could connect them with to benefit their goals. If it turns out you can't be that helpful, the gesture alone will stand out.
- Pay ridiculous attention. It's nearly impossible to genuinely offer help if you don't pay attention — I mean real attention, not just to what business they started or what sport they like! Do your research by reading blog posts, books and articles about the connection beforehand. Learn about their backgrounds and passions. Invest genuine time in learning what really matters to them and how you can help.
- Connect with people close to them. Most job openings are filled through networking and referrals, and making connections is no different. You automatically arrive with credibility when referred to someone you want to meet by a mutual friend. For example, I recently wanted to meet a best-selling author, and it turned out we had the same personal trainer. In reality, that fact means nothing, but in the world of social dynamics, it's gold! Spend more time connecting with your current network of friends and colleagues and see where it leads.
- Persistence wins most battles. If you can't get a direct referral, simply click send on that email or leave a message after the beep. But do not stop there, as most the world tends to. The first attempt is just the very beginning. Realize that the first try may get you nowhere, but the fifth or the tenth tries are the ones that start to yield results. An unreturned email or voicemail doesn't mean they don't want to connect with you. It's your job to be persistent! I sometimes get hundreds of requests in a day from readers who want to connect, but only about 2 percent ever follow up. Don't be in a hurry, but don't be invisible either.
- Make real friends. Think about how you've made the friends you have. That's all this is. You only make friends with people you genuinely want in your life. The same rule should go for bigger-name connections. Don't over-think it. Be human, be helpful and most humans will happily be human in return, regardless of who they are.
- Remain unforgettable. All of the above are simple — yet sadly underused — ways of standing out. Send birthday cards. Mail your favorite book with a signed personal note from you on the inside flap. Send them your family Christmas card. Be genuinely helpful. You'd be surprised how the simplest things actually never get done. Being memorable isn't as hard as some think!
It all comes back to helping others. If you spent 100 percent of your waking hours thinking about how you can help absolutely everyone you come in contact with — from the woman who makes your latte, to the top authority in your industry — you will find everything else tends to take care of itself. The world will suddenly be in your corner.