Are you a connector? And is the idea of being a connector aspirational to you, or make you cringe? Just as Dan Pink urged us to revisit our perspective on The Salesman in his book To Sell Is Human, connecting is the close sibling of sales, and thus should be seriously taken into consideration. Adam Grant has unveiled compelling research around the layers of connecting in his book Give and Take. Today's multitude of platforms to connect to others- Twitter, Linked In, Facebook, and Instagram- has made the means to connect easier.
The Why of connecting, to borrow from Simon Sinek's elegant framework of "start with why", could be plotted along Maslow's hierarchy of needs. So, to set aside for the moment, how one becomes a good connector, it is equally important to think through why connecting matters. Maslow's hierarchy starts with the most basic drivers of existence- physiological and safety drivers- and extends up to the more esoteric drivers of existence- love & belonging, esteem and self-actualization.
Here are three reasons why connecting matters as mapped against Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.
- Safety Driver: Sustainable Business Growth. This may be obvious, but it is easier said than done. Ninety percent of business initiation and sustainment is based on relationships with people. Now, arguably, the social media platforms listed above help you to connect to others more than they may help you to connect with others. The depth of the connection is really up to you. At the very basic level, connecting is a way to ensure the survival of your business, because it helps to grow your business. One could say that becoming a good connector is a business safety net.
- Belonging & Esteem Driver: Active Listening Builds Your and Others' Esteem. When you meet someone at a conference or a cocktail party, defer from constantly driving your own agenda, and truly lean in and listen to the person in front of you. Connecting is more than just about exchanging business cards, but is also about real, genuine curiosity about this person. Pattern recognition then becomes important: what ideas does this person's interests spark in you? Who else do you know who could be helpful to their initiatives and goals? In a way, take a clue from the music app Pandora, and become the "Pandora of People"! Play a game of connecting the dots between the person with whom you are speaking, to ideas, activities and people in your own world.
- Self-Actualization Driver: Being Selfless Is An Existentialist Goal. Practice professional generosity and begin to experience in an energetic, universal principles sort of way, that karma is real. You really do receive more when your hand has been metaphorically open from giving to others. This is a nice outcome of extending yourself to others and connecting not only for your own good but for theirs as well.
Connecting matters, because there are practical, communal and meaningful imperatives at stake.