by Michelle Tillis Lederman
2020 is over! Whoop, whoop! Although we are not yet out of the uncertain impact of the past challenging year, I enter 2021 with hope. I have hope of making new connections this year, possibly even face to face ones.
I was watching Shameless over break (don’t judge) and there was an episode about vision boards. I love the exercise of a vision board. The more clarity you have, the more likely it will come to fruition.
Something that will always be a part of my vision – CONNECTING!
If you have been reading my ramblings for a while, you may know I am not a fan of the word networking! After all, it has the word “work” in it – and who wants to do something that feels like work? When writing my first book, the publisher said I had to include the word “Networking” in the book title for SEO. And then I became known in the field and was even named as one of Forbes top 25 networking experts. (Ok, that was pretty cool!)
So I resist. I finally realized why when my brother-in-law walked in my office when I was writing The Connector’s Advantage and asked,
“What’s the difference between networking and connecting?”
While these two words may seem to be synonymous, the concepts are actually quite different. My answer to him…
“Networking is something that you do, and a Connector is who you are.”
Networking is an act or action in a moment in time. We go to an event to network. We tend to network with a purpose or a need such as a new business or a new job. Connection happens all the time in every interaction. A connector prioritizes relationships and genuine connections in everything they do.
The first mindset of being a connector is being open and accepting. This is a notable difference between networking and connecting. People can sense in-authenticity, whether they’re consciously aware of it or not. Look for what you have in common with whoever you’re speaking with. Listen, be present, and curious. More often than not, the rest will fall into place.
In today’s social climate, connecting with others is more important than ever. Taking the time to truly get to know someone, especially someone different than you in some way, creates harmony in your community. In this time of deep polarization, connection is critical. We need to be calling out the things we have in common rather than focusing on the ways we differ. This is why I feel so inspired to continue sharing the value and importance of connecting with you. Connecting is possible anywhere and with anyone.
You too can be a connector—it’s easier than you think! So my question for you is this,
In 2021, will you be networking, or will you be connecting?
Michelle Tillis Lederman is a people expert who inspires organizations and individuals to build real relationships and get real results. She is an accomplished speaker, trainer, coach, and author of four books including The Connector’s Advantage, The 11 Laws of Likability, Heroes Get Hired and Nail The Interview – Land The Job. Michelle was Named by Forbes as one of the top 25 Professional Networking Experts and she is also a former NYU professor, financial executive, and recovering CPA.