Why is establishing a connection so critical for business leaders today?
A connection is an interaction of depth and substance between two or more people, where a genuine bond is formed. That would seem to imply a high level of trust and respect is required, which perhaps we might expect would take significant time to develop.
However, an article by leading social psychologist Amy Cuddy, and communications strategist John Neffinger, suggests that connection in leadership can happen quickly. In their article Connect, Then Lead they discuss the importance of warmth and strength when it comes to leaders achieving high levels of productivity within their teams. In fact, their research shows that these two traits alone account for 90% of the positive or negative impressions we form when first interacting with business leaders.
And, perhaps surprisingly, they found that warmth is more influential than strength when forming a connection, which can even be acknowledged during the first meeting. As humans, we all want deeper, more authentic connection, so when we meet someone who portrays warmth and is willing to listen, we embrace them with trust and respect early in the interaction.
Of course, communication is so much more than language. A warm vocal tone and an authentic smile go a long way to creating a bond. Add to that a little empathy and attentive listening skills, and you are well on your way to building a connection in a short period of time. We all have the ability and ‘gut feeling’ to know when someone is acting in a genuine way and with good intention – if we allow ourselves to trust in that feeling. This is a basic premise, not just for business, but will enhance all interactions and relationships we encounter in life.
So, as a leader, we know creating a connection with our team will increase productivity but where else in business does connection have an impact?
We would like to suggest that the ability to connect and to create opportunities for connection is paramount in today’s business world. Connection is the foundation for everything we do in business, as demonstrated below.
Connect then refer:
85% of new business is based on ‘word of mouth’ referrals. Connection establishes a culture of trust within our network, customers, and B2B partners who will, in turn, feel confident to refer our services and products on to others. Referrals only eventuate when a connection has been made. Logically, it is extremely unlikely for someone to refer our services or products unless they respect what we do and trust they won’t be let down if they refer us on to their friends and associates. Of course, this also works in the same way with the products and services we refer to our friends, family and associates. Without an established connection, we will not refer someone, even in our network, if we do not trust in their ability to connect warmly and provide the service or quality product they say they can.
Connect then engage:
Regardless of how positive the referral or lead is from a trusted partner, if we do not engage with warmth with the potential new customer, do you think they will even consider working with us? If you think hard enough (or maybe not that hard), I’m sure you can remember a time when a friend has recommended a product, and then we’ve been disappointed by the attitude of the business. We always go back to our friend and tell them our experience don’t we? It stands to reason then, when following up on a lead, only a strong and warm connection will produce the engagement required to take a new relationship to the next level.
Connect then market:
When it comes to marketing your services or products, it’s commonly thought that new customers require an average of 7 ‘touchpoints’ before a connection is strong enough to cultivate a sale. A touchpoint is a way of interacting with potential customers and includes your website, printed media, social media, and direct conversation either meeting face to face or via phone. The number of touchpoints required can vary significantly in our experience, but still, each of the touchpoints needs to first establish, and then build, the connection with the potential customer or collaboration.
Connect then sell:
It’s now understood that people don’t buy products and services – they buy you! Customers can buy products that solve their problems from anywhere and from anyone, but they choose your business because of the connection they feel they have made with you. Only when trust and respect have been established with our referrals and touchpoints will our potential new customers take the step of purchasing our services and products.
Connect then buy:
Similarly, when looking for service providers, and suppliers for our business, we must make a connection if we want to have a lasting and productive relationship. It’s critical to recognise that our suppliers play a significant role, not only for the cash flow and the budgeting side of the business but for ensuring peace of mind in the supply chain. With a strong connection and relationship established, our suppliers will be looking out for us and working on our behalf if things get tough or supply lines are economically affected.
Connect then partner:
Collaboration is key in today’s business world. Working with other businesses gives us an opportunity to work together to achieve common goals, generate exciting new ideas and generally improve productivity. These benefits are only possible if a strong connection is formed.
Connect then grow:
Collaboration and networking with a number of industries and businesses, forming partnerships and opening up new markets, is a strategy for growth that has proven to be effective time and time again. When aspiring for growth, businesses must continue to work towards improving and enhancing their connection with customers, suppliers, partners and collaborators.
Connect then learn:
Forming strong and lasting connections with those who inspire us will bring opportunities to increase our knowledge in so many ways. Not only can we learn new tools and tips from those who have gone before us, we can also learn by association and observation. Increasing our network while building and growing connections will open up the way in which we see the world, both personally and professionally.
Connect then serve:
We all want to find ways to contribute to humanity, indeed, being of service by supporting others is one of our ‘6 human needs’. Finding ways to serve others, while growing through our authentic and meaningful connections, allows us to see diversity in the world and discover how we can have a positive impact on the lives of others.
Connect then lead:
Going full circle, using the Power of Connection to help us learn, grow and serve the world will enable us to be a better leader and an inspiration to those around us.
Understanding The Power of Connection is our focus here at District32. When the majority of a group appreciates the true value of connection, mastering the art of relationships, and continues to work towards establishing trust and respect while servicing others with impeccable value, magic can happen.
Ultimately, everything we do in life is about forming and maintaining meaningful relationships. Finding the right community to be a part of provides us with another of life’s ‘6 human needs’ – certainty! When you are part of something bigger than yourself, you can be certain you have the support, friendship and resources necessary to get you through difficult times. And, just as valuable, you have a network of people willing to celebrate your achievements.
In business, the right community can help you scale your business, develop new opportunities, and create profitable growth year after year. There is nothing more valuable than the power of connection in a network of like-minded business people with similar values, collaborating for the good of everyone involved. When a group’s core values and culture are established and easily recognisable, this will integrate into every member involved, cultivating a high level of trust and respect within the group. In essence, as part of the group, you will be trusted and respected by association (unless you do something to lose the trust), and therefore connections are quickly formed.
District32 has seen the compound effect of this. With a few hundred members in our local Perth community, we have, between us, access to over 100,000 connections and created more than $40 million in referrals – now that undoubtedly demonstrates the true Power of Connection.
Imagine going to the next level; with Global Connections, the possibilities are endless. Collaborations and partnerships with overseas businesses open our potential marketplace to the world. Technology has been a powerful catalyst, giving us more opportunities to connect than ever before. Only a few decades ago, global business meant writing a letter that would be received weeks later. These days, we can communicate in seconds through our hand-held devices. And despite many platforms diminishing the art of face-to-face communication over the last decade, if the pandemic has taught us anything in the last couple of years, it is that meaningful professional and personal relationships can be made, anywhere across the globe. Incorporating platforms such as Zoom, with increasingly better software, allows us to form strong connections.
However, it’s also important not to get overwhelmed with all the possibilities. We can be at risk of digital burnout if we spend all of our time on our computers and devices constantly trying to make impressionable connections. By finding a ‘tribe’ or business group that matches your values, you can allocate a strategic amount of time and focus to a platform that you know works. And as the numbers clearly show, creating connections within a strategic group can enhance your business exponentially.
District32 is proud to be fostering an environment to make this happen. Global Connection is the focus for 2022, with our (soon to be launched) business, Scaleprenuers. This platform has been specifically built to encourage the promotion of your business to a global marketplace, and offer opportunities to learn about business from a whole new perspective.
With the New Year not far away, the holiday season is often a time when we reflect and review our business goals. Do you think Global Connection could work for your business? What are some of the ways your product or service could be of value to the world? It’s time to think big and explore opportunities outside of your community!
Why not make a ‘big hairy audacious goal’ for 2022 and discover ways of creating Global Connections both personally and professionally? How could this open up possibilities of growth for both you and your business? How cool would it be to create your ‘global Rolodex’ and make it your most valuable possession?
With unlimited potential, District32 is excited to take The Power of Connection global and to see where the world takes us! We hope you come along for the ride!