The Missing Link of Making Meaningful Connections
I am decidedly in favor of using Contact Management and Customer Relationship Management solutions and have a determined view of the kind of data to populate them with. However, the question should be asked of any user of these kinds of solutions, “Do they really, and I mean really, create and sustain genuine connections with those I deal with in my various networks?” To those of you who might have readily said they have, let me then ask these follow-up questions: Could they be even more effective? If so, what would it take to achieve even greater success?
The “Traditional” View
Collecting and storing facts about the people in my networks are what Relationship Management (RM) tools are designed to do. Creating a profile for an individual is thus an aggregation of information, collected over time and enhanced with every new piece of information. This is the baseline of “getting to know” those you deal with better. Knowing that you like a particular sports team can certainly help to “personalize” your efforts at establishing a relationship, for example. That is much better than just knowing their title and other exclusively business-related information, but it is a far cry from reaching the full potential of that “relationship.” Meaningful relationships are about about much more than data collection. The value of collecting data exists truly as a foundation and a place from which to grow.
It’s Not About Just Relationships – It’s About Connections
Real meaningful and sustainable relationships are the result of a “connection” that occurred between two people and is just as important to achieve in business as it is in your personal life. That’s not to say that business connections become lifelong personal friends—it’s not to say they couldn’t either, though. When you think of those people with whom you feel connected, chances are they are in your personal network. Yet think of the value of those connections and what they mean. What did it take to initiate and sustain that connection?
It most likely required something rarely mentioned with regards to how best to optimize RM solutions and achieve the kind of relationships that they are supposedly intended to help you achieve. While is rarely mentioned, it’s crucial to bridging the gap between relationships and true connections. Stopping short leaves an opening for competitors to fill as well and thus further handicaps further progress in your pursuits with those in your business networks. What are these other pieces of information left un-entered in your RM profiles that could be the catalyst of opening up the full potential of those elusive “connections”?
The Missing Link
The thing, that thing, that it takes to establish a real connection with people of any kind is vulnerability—yours. The business relationships that you stand to have the strongest bonds with are those that go beyond the “data collection” type of information to exchanges in which you have shared something authentic (read vulnerable) about yourself with them. Scientific studies bear this out. As counterintuitive as it may seem, when you share something about yourself with them, something beyond the apparent reason you are developing the relationship for strict business purposes, you have allowed your weakness to be your strength. In my own experience, when I have had the chance to share some private side of myself, I simply include that in the contact’s profile (in my case, in Vipor CRM) with a simple tag of “PS,” which signifies that I have personally shared something about myself with this person.
Sharing an authentic and humble revelation about yourself with others is an extremely powerful and seldom-used technique to establish a genuine connection with people. For example, I have created tight connections with business people simply by sharing a personally authentic story about myself and more often than not, we both get a laugh out of it. It can be something as silly as having spilled coffee on my shirt while driving to an appointment with someone. We end up laughing at my expense, but it helps create that all-important and elusive “emotional” connection.
Those types of simple gestures more often than not lead to an unfolding level of shared information on a more personal level. Those vulnerabilities can help you to achieve success at a greater rate than simply gathering facts and numbers.