Without mutual respect and trust, “communication” is BLAH BLAH BLAH
Two of the greatest (of many) benefits of the World Wide Web originally envisioned by Tim Berners-Lee are that those who are connected with it can then connect with anyone or anything else also online, anywhere, anytime…and then when the connection is made, interact with each other.
As in all of John Maxell’s several dozen other books, he provides an abundance of information, insights, and counsel in this one that will help his reader to communicate more effectively by connecting more extensively. Specifically, Maxwell explains how becoming a Connector will help to achieve strategic objectives that include these:
o Enhance visibility and increase influence
o Serve the best interests of others as well as those of one’s society
o “Talk the talk”…and then walk it
o Renew energy sources
o Master skills to complement natural talent
o Locate common ground, mutual interests, and shared values
o Follow Albert Einstein’s admonition, “Make everything as simple as possible but no simpler”
o Create shared experience that everyone enjoys
o Inspire others
o Ensure alignment of affirmations with actions
As I began to read this book, I was reminded of passages in Maribeth Kuzmeski’s The Connectors: How the World’s Most Successful Businesspeople Build Relationships and Win Clients for Life. The examples she cites indicate that almost anyone can establish and then sustain mutually beneficial relationships within and beyond the workplace. She asserts that “true connections” between and among people must be made and then sustained with feeling and purpose and honesty. Bill George would invoke the term “authentic,” insisting that it is imperative to be true to one’s self (to one’s True North) as well as to others.
These comments who wholly consistent with the observations and values that Maxwell shares in his book as he explains the defining characteristics of High, Average, and Low Achievers before shifting his attention to explaining how to connect with people at all levels, connect one-on-one, and connect with an audience. He devotes Part II (Chapters 6-10) to explaining in detail how to become a Connector and then, hopefully, help others to complete the same process.
Again, I want to stress how much importance Maxwell places on personal integrity. Some of the most despicable leaders throughout history were – at least for a time – highly effective Connectors. They attracted huge numbers of followers who were enthralled by their charm (i.e. “charisma”) and presence as well as by their eloquence.
The leadership that John Maxwell advocates does not preclude any of these qualities. Indeed, Jesus of Nazareth, Abraham Lincoln, Mohandas Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and Martin Luther King, Jr. possessed them. However, Maxwell insists that the values great leaders affirm are the same that determine their behavior, that they are committed to what Robert Greenleaf once characterized as “servant leadership.” Principled behavior always communicates more and more effectively than words do.
Kuzmeski is the author of The Connectors: How the World’s Most Successful Businesspeople Build Relationships and Win Clients for Life (Wiley, September 2009). Creating strong business relationships has been the focus of Kuzmeski’s business and career. The Connectors is packed full of tools and techniques aimed at helping her reader develop better, more profitable connections—tools and techniques proven effective by some of the world’s most successful professionals. She is the founder of Red Zone Marketing, LLC, which consults to Fortune 500 firms on strategic marketing planning and business growth. Kuzmeski has personally consulted with some of the world’s most successful CEO’s, entrepreneurs, and professionals.
An internationally recognized speaker, she shares the tactics that businesspeople use today to create more sustainable business relationships and sales and marketing successes. She is a regular media contributor appearing on FoxNews, ABC News, WGN-TV, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Entrepreneur, and Forbes. She graduated with a degree in journalism from Syracuse University and an MBA from The George Washington University. Kuzmeski lives in the Chicago area with her husband Rich and two teenagers.
Here is an excerpt from my interview of Kuzmeski. The complete interview is also available.
Morris: For those who have not as yet read The Connectors, what are the most effective strategies for building relationships, especially with one’s workplace associates and clients?
Kuzmeski: Being a great connector is really all about having focused attention on the other person. If you are obviously focused on yourself first and do a lot of talking, you are probably not endearing yourself to others. And, likely you are not connecting with them. The five main principles in the book revolve around that premise. They are (1) Develop a true “What’s In It For Them” mentality, (2) Listen, curiously and intently, (3) Ask others important questions that encourage and support connections, (4) Manage the selling process so that the sale closes itself – that is, use creative strategies “to sell without selling,” and finally, (5) Create a memorable multi-sensory experience so that you differentiate yourself by the enduring impact you have on others.
And probably the most important of these five principles is listening. We know we should do it better, but most often fall short. It is HARD to listen, but the benefits are overwhelmingly positive in terms of the connections that can be forged with others. If you are really listening and listening intently, people will know you care and will like you more than if you did the talking.
Morris: How can these same strategies also be effective in one’s personal life?
Kuzmeski: The same strategies for relationships and connecting that work in business work the same, in fact even better, with our personal relationships. Focusing intently on the other person (instead of thinking about what you are going to say next) is a great way to endear yourself to someone. If others know they have your undivided attention and that you are truly listening and care about what they are saying – it can change the way that they feel about you.
Morris: You devote an entire chapter (Chapter 18) to discussing the ten most popular social media Web sites. What advice do you have for those who wish to derive the greatest benefit from them?
Kuzmeski: The key with social media is to get started and stay focused. There are so many different activities you could take on and much of it may take up a lot of time without much return. Find out what types of social media your target marketing is using and get focused in those areas. For instance, financial advisors can’t use most social media because of their strict compliance but they can use LinkedIn. So, I have focused much of my efforts on LinkedIn. Begin my carving out 30 minutes a day to stay active with your connections.
Morris: You seem to think that almost anyone can become an effective “Connector.” Is that a fair assessment?
Kuzmeski: Well of course I think it is! The whole reason I wrote the book was to detail the tactics of the great connectors for those who want to learn and become better connectors. Whether you are already a great connector or you want to become a much better connector – it is possible! Simple strategies like placing a conscious focus on the other person can transform someone into a better connector very quickly. The book is filled with hundreds of tactics that anyone can use to connect while speaking, on a job interview, with colleagues, your boss, clients and friends and family.
Morris: Near the conclusion of your book, you assert “Your online presence defines you.” Please explain.
Kuzmeski: Today, if someone wants more information, they will look online. What is online about you and your firm becomes the reality of who you are. Your exposure online does define who you are. Does your website present you and your company in the exact way you want others to perceive you? Does it capture the personality and unique aspects? Also, Google yourself, your business name, and even your competitors. Find out what’s out there. If it’s not what you want, you need to develop and release more content so you effectively control your top 10 Google search results. Write articles, blog, update your website often, have someone evaluate your website’s SEO. And, set a Google alert on yourself so if anything new appears online about you – you are aware of it. (www.Google.com/alerts).
Morris: How is The Connectors book selling?
Kuzmeski: We have had very strong sales coming from Amazon.com, airport bookstores as well as regular bookstores. Wiley, my publisher, asked me to write another book after seeing the strong start of The Connectors. This book, …And the Clients Went Wild! How Savvy Professionals Win All The Business They Want will be released in September 2010!
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