THE BLOG
10/31/2014 04:16 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

How to Elevate Your 'Connectworking' Skills

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By Susan Dench, via Muddy Dog Media

By Susan Dench, Founder and President of The Connectworks Academy

Old think: Networking. Want to kick that up into high gear and really get personal? That's connectworking. And it's the number one most important rule for getting ahead.

Connectworking is powerful. It's challenging. It means you have to think differently.

Making personal connections in a digital age is hard. But the people who can talk to each other are the ones who'll succeed. They can ask for and give advice, share information, make a sale, secure an investment.

While communicating has never been easier, connection has never been more difficult. In fact, the great irony is that as we develop new pathways to satisfy our human craving for personal connection, people are starving for it. The very technology created because of our need to connect with others is actually operating to deny us direct, meaningful connection.

Whether you want to own the room, smash glass ceilings or take your business to greater heights, connectworking will help you meet fascinating people doing fascinating things. Get you in the right room with the right people at the right time. Change your life.

As we think about developing lofty goals, taking things to a higher level, going onward and upward and raising the bar, remember to elevate your efforts by using the Chain of Connectworking. Keep in mind that each action is interwoven with the others, and the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Ready?

Engage: Make a plan based on your goals and personal brand and seek out appropriate connections.

If you don't know where you're going, how are you going to get there? Start with your goals and what it is you want to accomplish.Then think about who it is you need to help you be successful.

Connectworking isn't about meeting lots of random people and throwing business cards at them in an attempt to have something stick. A good plan lets you know why you are going somewhere, who you want to talk with and what you are going to say. If you go at connectworking in a haphazard away, you will probably have less than stellar results.

Also consider what your personal brand conveys. What do you know that others don't? That's where your brand equity will lie.

Listen - Be present and build rapport and relationships based on what you learn.

Turn off your cell phone and give the speaker your undivided attention. Put aside distracting thoughts - don't miss what they are saying by preparing your response. Be aware of the speaker's body language - what are they saying without actually saying it?

If you start to practice active listening, truly hearing what is being said, you will pick up on the needs of the other person, and where you can be of assistance.

Exchange - Share and be generous with your ideas, thoughts and contacts.

Knowledge may be power, but sharing that knowledge makes you more powerful. Don't be stingy with your generosity, because the Law of Reciprocity says that when people have received a favor of some description, they often want to reciprocate and do something in return.

That doesn't mean you enter every conversation with a quid pro quo expectation. Effective connectworking, collaboration, influence, negotiation, and leadership skills have something in common - giving is the secret to getting ahead.

Value - Become indispensable.

Ask yourself: What can I do today to be valuable to my customers (boss / co-workers / community / family / friends / spouse)? Take action. Be of service and add value going above and beyond expectations - without any anticipation of reciprocation. What can you do that no one else can?

Become the connective hub, putting yourself at the center of smart people with great ideas doing amazing things. Look at things from the 30,000' level, becoming a catalyst for bringing people and projects together.You can span boundaries across your different connectworks for the benefit of all involved.

Attitude- Make a choice to be happy, friendly, upbeat, buoyant, optimistic, positive, confident, enthusiastic and sincere at all times.

You may not always be able to choose what happens to you, but you can certainly choose how you react. Take the high road and smile even when you don't feel like it. And there's nothing wrong with faking it 'til you make it - because eventually, you will.

Trusted Advisor - Become the trusted resource your colleagues and clients need to be successful and earn the coveted Trusted Advisor moniker.

Trusted Advisor status is earned by merit, an achievement based on a job well done.

As a Trusted Advisor you are in it for the long haul, not a short term gain. You'll go the extra mile and over-deliver even when an immediate sale isn't involved. Your focus will always be on adding value for your customers.

Extend - Follow up and keep yourself in your connection's awareness.

Connectworking is like any marketing effort - a visible profile will only be achieved when it's made with a sustained, consistent, enthusiastic effort. Think of it as a marathon, not a sprint.

Make notes on the back of a new contact's business card about your conversation, or something you offered to do and make sure to follow up. Organize those business cards digitally with an app like Evernote Hello. Send an article which you know will be of interest, or offer to connect people when appropriate.

What are you committed to? Go and make it happen!

Susan Dench is the founder and president of The Connectworks Academy, which provides communication training, development and advisory services. Her latest book is "Connectworking: The Savvy Woman's Guide To Turning Small Talk Into Big Business." She can be reached at sdench@theconnectworks.com.