How To Build Connections With People
Ever heard the phrase life is about who you know and less about what you know? People like people they have something in common with. To get the “who you know” down you need to learn to build personal connections with people. How do we do this? Here I will outline how you can build connections with other people. Whether you are trying to expand your social circle, climb the corporate ladder, find a mentor, win over that special someone you’ve had your eye on, or get more out of your current friendships these principles are sure to improve your relationships.
Before we jump in, I want to say that there is a right place and time to do this. Obviously, you know not to walk into your boss’s office and start asking him about his personal life. The application for this advice should be applied when the opportunity presents itself. When you are at a social setting with coworkers, alone with that girl/guy you have had your eye on, or meeting someone for the first time you hope to network with. It is designed to take things to a personal level. You also want to ask questions related to the context. We will get into that shortly.
Relating to the other person
Ever ask someone where they are from and find out you have something in common? How did that make you feel? Next time this happens, try to think about how you feel as this unfolds, it’s very powerful! The more we have in common with someone the more likely we are to like and remember them. The key is to discover unique characteristics (what makes them who they are) and use your think tank to draw from your own experiences and relate to theirs. The more personal the connection the stronger it is. I could start a conversation with any guy about how good looking Kate Upton is and we could connect in a small measure about that subject because we both feel the same way. However, if I am talking with another guy and it turns out he grew up in the same city is me, well then, we are going to have a lot to talk about! The connection will feel stronger. If we happen to know some of the same people it will be even stronger! But what if I discovered that he survived the removal and rehabilitation of a brain tumor that I also had removed. We would connect in a unique way. All the experiences that create emotions - like when we received the news we had cancer, the experience of surgery, pains of rehabilitation, and how we felt when we overcame the adversity would be extremely unique feelings that we share. We would be able to understand each other on an entirely different level that not many others could. This would give us a very strong connection.
To connect you need to ask questions and share experiences. But what kind of questions do we ask? At first, we want to keep the topics safe. Discussing careers, sports, interests and finding common interests to connect on. Eventually, we want to ask questions that will elicit strong emotions. The more emotion someone links to an experience/memory the more powerful the connection if you have it in common. The emotions can be– sad, angry, happy, it doesn’t matter as long as you can relate. Some examples include:
When was a time in your life when you felt particularly motivated?
- Elicits ambition and motivation
How did you feel when you finally achieved “insert their passion/goal here”?
- Elicits passion, triumph, and happiness.
What do you do for fun?
- Elicits joy, happiness, pleasure
How did you get your injury?
- Elicits pain, struggle, and accomplishment
Why did you want to go into your career?
- Elicits passion
What was it like when you were first starting out in your career?
- Elicits struggles
What is your fondest childhood memory?
- Elicits happiness
Now obviously, If I went up to someone I met 30 minutes ago and asked him what his fondest childhood memory was he look at me like I had three heads but if I was on a 3rd or 4th date with a girl I was interested in that question can build a powerful connection. It is important to apply the questions to the context you are in.
So Brandon that’s all fine and dandy but easier said than done. Maybe I am not good at conjuring emotional memories out of the blue. What do I do? That’s fine let’s do a little homework before hand. What if we went into a situation and already knew a few topics we connect on? Wouldn’t that be nice knowing you’re going into a conversation that will soon be warm instead of fumbling around in the cold? It doesn’t take a psychic to do this. All it takes is a little homework.
As a Medical Device Sales rep, my job is to build relationships with surgeons. Before calling on a surgeon, I will look up his biography online and any other info I can find on him. This tells me:
- Where he is from.
- What schools he studied.
- What cities he studied.
- A little about what he did growing up.
- His current interests.
Knowing this going into an introduction is key. You only have one shot to make a first impression. Knowing this info going into the interaction gives me targets to take the conversation personal and build a connection. We may have lived at the same place at one point, played the same sports, were school rivals, studied similar subjects in school, and may have similar interests. If I can connect with him/her on any of the subjects I immediately differentiate myself from my competition. He/she is now more likely to take another call from me in the future or look at product because they remember the connection.
What can you do to research the person you are trying to build a connection with? How can you find common interests? a few good places to start would be:
- What are they sharing on the media board?
- What photos are they posting?
- What activities are they engaged in?
- What topic and interests do they tweet about?
- What topics are they sharing on social media?
- People they know
- If you know coworkers or acquaintances with this person, ask about them.
Think about all of your friends you currently have? Why are you friends with them? What unique personal connection do you share with these people? How do those connections define your relationship with them? This is a great place to start. Once you have identified the strong connection you have with your current friends you have a starting point on building connection with new people.
What are your thoughts? Have you ever had an “ah hah!” moment when it comes to connecting with people? If so, please comment below! I would love to hear from you!