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How to Make Meaningful Connections

Guest Post by Jane Pollak

Jane Pollak I’ve talked about my friend and colleague Lucy Hedrick on many occasions, but her re-entry to Connecticut this season prompts another side of Lucy I’d like to share.  Enviably, Lucy spends over six months a year as a snowbird in Sarasota, FL, taking her writing and book proposal coaching business with her. Once the Northeast warms to her liking, Lucy returns to her Greenwich home for the spring and summer months.

Lucy doesn’t sit around and wait for her friends and colleagues to notice that she’s back. She doesn’t even consider that anyone should have her on their radar. Rather, she gets busy reaching out and setting up her calendar to include the people and activities she most enjoys.

Last week I received two personal messages from Lucy with inspired ways to connect. She emailed me saying we had lots to discuss and would I like to meet her for a walk.  Note the benefit here: Lucy invited me for an activity she knows I engage in regularly. She also knows that getting anywhere in Fairfield County, Connecticut, is a challenge. She made an irresistible proposal. She offered to drive to my house to meet me. My answer was an immediate, “YES!”

Earlier that same week I was included in a group email sent to the women from my writers group, of which Lucy was a part, which disbanded a few years ago. These creative writers are still foremost in my heart, but we haven’t gotten together as a group in well over a year. The email was from Lucy with the suggestion we get together for a reunion. Again, not only did Lucy come up with a lovely idea, but she also named a place and put out 5 dates that we could respond to.

How many times do you hear, “We should really get together!” followed by an enthusiastic, “Yeah! That’d be so nice.” And nothing happens. Lucy pre-empted that go-nowhere invitation with her thoughtfulness and commitment.

Too often as a coach and avid networker I hear a woeful refrain: “I sent out a mailing.” “I attended a networking meeting.” “I left a message for so-and-so.” I am never satisfied with these attempts as an excuse for dropping the ball. The attitude of entrepreneurs must be, “…And then I sent out another mailing.” “…And then I followed up with three women I met at the event.” “...And then I called back, three more times until I made contact.”

Giving up is never a solution to connecting. Doing the next right thing is. No one responds to the email? Pick up the phone. Send a delightful card via snail mail. Find a way to ‘bump into’ your prospect knowing what other groups she attends.

Lucy and I went for our walk at the appointed time and our group will meet at one of our colleague’s homes at the end of the month. When you connect like Lucy, things happen. From my own experience, more things happen when you’re connecting with others than when you’re sitting in your office. I’m grateful to be on the receiving end of Lucy’s networking outreach. As Lucy says about being with others, “It’s my oxygen.”

I’ve learned so much from her example. Since I’ve been running my own networking events for the past 18 months, I’ve initiated many of Lucy’s tools to keep the women I seek out interested and talking about my offers. I send out email blasts, make follow-up phone calls, hand out occasional complimentary attendee passes and mix up the locations to feature women business owners throughout Westchester and Fairfield Counties as well as Manhattan.

Here are some concrete tips for handling your outreach and moving the connection process forward:

  • Create an A-list of who you want to connect with
  • Think through what activities (coffee dates, lunch, hands-on classes) those “A” players you’d like to host
  • Plan an event that YOU will enjoy. Your positive energy will magnetically attract the right people to you.
  • Send out the invitation via email, snail mail, phone calls or a unique method (call one person and have them pass it on)
  • Make a personal connection with each attendee and follow up afterwards with a significant gesture.
  • Do something!

We are living in an extraordinary time right now. Everything is different. Much of what we’ve known in our lives is being displaced. One thing I believe that will never change is our need for human connection. If you’ve read this far, you must believe that, too. Take responsibility and ownership for keeping your own connective tissue alive by reaching out and touching the people who really matter to you. You will be rewarded substantially for your efforts.

My friend Jane Pollak is an internationally known entrepreneur, artist, professional speaker and author. As a connector, she speaks to audiences about entrepreneurial subjects including turning your passion into a business, marketing and goal setting.

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