How well are you using your connections?

The real power of networking is getting past your inner circle and reaching into the inner circle of others.

If you have attended one of my keynotes you may have heard me tell the story about how I found out that Neil Peart, the drummer for RUSH, was my nieces “other” Uncle and I never knew. I tell this story because we all make assumptions as to how connected we are with our network and here was a very famous person connected directly to my niece and I never knew! It really does start you thinking about how connected the world is. Perhaps six degrees of separation is a reality!

This month, I have a story to add that just may send a shiver down your spine.
A few weekends ago my wife, Sharen, was going through my Parents old pictures (Sharen is a scrap booking fanatic). At the time, my Mother and I were out shopping and when we came home we found Sharen excited and bursting to tell us about a picture she found. The picture was of my Grandmother, Grandma Skene, standing in front of the Church of Skene in Scotland. When she showed me the picture I reiterated that this was Grandma Skene standing in front of the Church of Skene in Scotland. She said, “No, look at who the Minister is!” I looked at the Minister’s name and realized that he had the same family name as my wife and I agreed that this was some coincidence. She said, “Don’t you get it, that’s my Grandfather!”

That’s right – William Peebles was her Grandfather! In 1971 when I was 9 and Sharen was 8 and I was living in St. Catharines, Ontario and Sharen was living in Vancouver, British Columbia my Grandmother was standing in front of her Grandfather’s Church in Scotland and we have the picture to prove it! It would be another 17 years before Sharen and I would meet. The world really is a small place if we allow ourselves to get fully connected.
All this leads me to ask, “How well are you using your connections?”

I realize most of us think we network but the real power of networking is in connecting with the people who are not in the room with us. Have you thought of a strategy for having the people you know, talk to the people they know, about you? Have you ever considered asking one of your connections to invite two of their connections to lunch with you? The real power of networking is getting past your inner circle and reaching into the inner circle of others? Another idea might be to attend different events outside your normal social/business circle. You just don’t know who you might meet.

One question that I always try to keep in the back of my mind when I meet new people is, “Whom do I know that this person would want to know?” I just may have a valuable connection to make.

Last week when I was teaching one of my programs in Ottawa I had the group introduce themselves to three or four other people in the room and share one of the following with them:

  1. A business partner that they would recommend and why.
  2. A powerful life lesson.
  3. Something that they think would be of interest to the other person.

The point being, that instead of just saying whom they were and what they did, I wanted them to offer something of value. You see, we tend to forget names unless we know there is value in remembering them. Imagine the power if everyone you met shared something of real value to you!

Finally, I want to share a website with you This is a business networking site where you can post a little information about yourself and start to make connections. Currently, I have 24 friends connected to me and those people connect me with 2,763 new connections. One lesson I have learned is the more time I put into developing relationships, the more that comes back to me.

This month, take the time to energize your connections, have a strategy for taking them deeper and making them more meaningful.

Brainstorming Ideas

  1. How can you get past your own circle and into the cirle of others?
  2. What value could you add to a new relationship (lesson learned, referral,connection)?
  3. Ask, who do I know that this person would want to know?
Curt Skene