Daily, I get connection requests from all sorts of people. There are those that promise to bring us 100s of qualified leads if we connect, then buy. There are those that say we have common businesses and interests, but nothing in their profile shows me where that commonality is–and they have never bothered to look at my profile. And there are a lot of genuine connection requests with intriguing people.
With many pundits, “Connections” seem to be a bragging right, something akin to, “Mine is bigger than yours….” or “The more the merrier….”
What seems to be missing in the Connections race is the concept of Connection. That is connecting with another human being in a very human manner.
And the concept of Connection, engaging another human being, is not limited to our social channels. We see challenges with Connection in our companies, with our colleagues, and with our customers. While we mouth the words about buying and selling being a people/relationship business, while much of the research reinforces the importance of relationships and trust building, all the behaviors we see, seem to be going in the opposite direction.
And people are feeling not connected.
Employee engagement, quiet quitting, voluntary turnover, burnout, are all skyrocketing. WFH, Hybrid working contribute to our feelings of being isolated, disconnected. We read, daily, of mental health issues, loneliness, and depression. In our quests for efficiency, we seem to have overlooked the need for and importance of belonging.
Yet all the research shows, that when we feel connected to others, we are more productive. Report after report show consistent high performance is directly related to our shared purpose, values, and culture. That much of our identity is associated with others who share elements of our identity. That we create meaning in the work that we do by being connected with our colleagues.
Think back to the jobs or projects where you felt most engaged and invigorated. I suspect a common element is the connection you felt with those you worked with. And that connection was not just on the task or project goals, but it was getting to know others and them getting to know you as a human being. Whether sharing family stories, talking about hobbies, whining about shared annoyances, or just having a good laugh. Being connected is more then just our jobs, but being engaged with those we depend on to do our jobs.
When we are connected, we allow ourselves to get into deeper conversations, to engage at deeper levels, to deal more effectively with difficult issues. We are, in the end, much more productive, creative, and impactful when we have things that connect us beyond the task at hand.
As leaders, we must put meaning, rather than lip service, to the importance of connection. We must give our people time and space to connect. We must connect with those who work for us and those we work with. We must recognize that productivity and effectiveness is not a result of keeping our noses to the grindstone, but rather through being connected more deeply.
As sellers, we have a unique opportunity. Our customer are no different from us. They often feel disconnected, unengaged, isolated. We have the opportunity to connect with them for more than a transaction, but to create meaning and value with them. And in return, that helps us feel far more connected.
Afterword: Thanks to the inspiring post by Suzy McAlpine for provoking me to think more deeply about this issue: “24 Hours With My Brothers: The Power Of Connection In Life and Leadership.”