Connecting People is the Secret to Success


Every single one of your actions generates a force of energy that returns to you. You can find it in physics, and in popular sayings, too — you reap what you saw. It's true. When you choose connective actions, when you support others and their projects, your return is success.

There are plenty of books, "how to" posts, and articles about networking — some quite useful. What these materials do not teach you, however, is intent. I've had this kind of discussion with my friend Peter on a couple of occasions.

In our conversation with you here a few years back, he said you can only be lost if you think you should be somewhere else. And that is the crux of understanding intent and present-moment awareness, or for the purposes of our conversation now, paying attention to what happens with the person in front of you.

There are different kinds of listening

We talked about a few here, and I'm sure you have experienced even more. In fact:

  • listening is so much more than monitoring — it means: (1) being in tune with what your customers want and expect; (2) playing into the need for status and gratification people have; (3) helping people reward themselves by being generous to others; (4) tying what happens online directly into the real world; (5) being able to identify and capitalize on future patterns early on
  • listening is a way to collaborate and improvise effectively — people buy, join, connect on the basis of emotion, conversation is a negotiation of meaning. Perhaps the most powerful way to soothe someone's emotions is to appreciate their concerns. There are three elements in appreciating someone. (1) You want to understand the other's point of view; (2) find merit in what they are thinking, feeling, or doing; (3) and communicate the merit you see.
  • listening is a way to know your heart — silence is indeed golden. It is when you pause, keep your own assumptions and rushing thoughts still, that you can pay attention to the finer details, in between the words in a conversation

You could be dividing the same office, be across from each other and pop your head in the door of your team mate all day, and still not hear what she is saying. The quality of listening doesn't depend on the tools, nor in sharing an office space, or on being on the same team, if the heart, mind and desire are not there.

Listening is very important for finding meaning. And meaning is the key to connecting. Which is why networking is not an activity, not a verb, it's an outcome, a noun — a network. Social networks are not built overnight. Have you noticed how you need users to share their information, do something, bring others first before you can have a network?

80% of success is showing up

When you participate to the conversation and situation at hand, you begin building a network. There are all kinds of people and dynamics in a network, all of them, as we said this week, motivated by self interest. And that is great news, because it allows you to spice things up in making connections.

I've always been interested in learning about you, because I'm keen on finding ways to connect people to opportunities. Expansive behavior is contagious — it spreads through networks and benefits everyone, not just you.

It's easy to nod and see the wisdom of this statement conceptually. It may seem a bit overwhelming at first to put into practice — where to start? Who is more important?

The very same questions marketers and communicators ask when dipping their toes into social networks to benefit their organizations. Which is why listening and knowing what you're listening for is key in business.

On a more personal level, pick a couple of people you meet or bump into (nothing is ever by chance, by the way) today, every day, and truly listen to what they're saying. Not while you're busy saying your piece, or thinking about what *you* need to get done. Hit pause on your own internal conversation.

At first, you may not have any particular advice, or contacts, or action coming to mind. Accept that. Just honor the other with your attention.

You do that enough times, get into the habit of thinking about being useful and of service (or any other concept that fits who you are), and solutions, suggestions, connections will start to emerge from memory, opportunities to help someone will present themselves to you.

And you will recognize them, because you have invited them there.

It's not about social media, or any social-ism you can find online, even if you weren't looking. The conversation is not about who is right, who is best, and so on. Think of yourself as an ambassador in the business of social transformation. This is valid for individuals and organizations.

I connect people constantly, everywhere. It's exciting to see ideas brought to life in so many different ways. The secret to success is helping others succeed on their own terms. Worry less about being noticed, and notice the people around you, instead

[what goes around, comes around. image credit / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0]

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0 responses to “Connecting People is the Secret to Success”

  1. I love this post Valeria and is a topic that’s been on my mind a lot lately. You have expressed these ideas so well all I can add to the conversation is suggested reading for those who want to continue the study of listening and showing up.
    A very dear friend recently recommended a book that I would like to pass along here. “Improv Wisdom” by Patricia Ryan Madson.

  2. Another Suber post Valeria! I learned a long time ago from my friend Tim Sanders in his great book “Love is the Killer App” that the foundation to career and life success is: Knowledge – Network – Love. You have to be bright, sharp, smart and talented at something that is valuable in the marketplace (knowledge). A lot of the right people need to know that about you – a huge network of great people that are interested and invested in your success (network). And lastly, you must be a person of integrity and honesty – a loving person who cares about other people (love). I believe your post speaks to all three of these beautifully – and puts them in the right perspective. Approach people with a loving attitude and look for what is interesting and valuable in the people you meet… And then look for ways to deeply listen to them so that you can help them and connect them to other people and ideas of value. It is one of my very favorite Zig Zigler sayings: “If you just help enough other people get what they need – you will get everything you need.” And the starting place is always… listening. Thank you so much Valeria.

  3. So true. Opportunities arise when you least expect them. I’ve never liked the idea of connecting just for the sake of it. Connecting is the result of helping someone else.

  4. Thank you Valeria. I too have been giving this topic a fair amount of thought lately and you have done a great job of capturing it. There’s no doubt that my strongest connections with friends and colleagues, have sparked from circumstances where I took the opportunity to truly listen, without judgement and without the internal ticker tape running. I appreciate the reminder.

  5. “Conversation is a negotiation of meaning” — this sentence (and the whole post) was a great way for me to start my morning. The intricacies and subtleties of listening are always simply about “noticing the people around you.” Thank you.

  6. This is a great post! As the saying goes, a rising tide raises all ships. Helping others reach their goals always pays off. And the best way to learn how to start that process is by listening and beginning a conversation.

  7. Lovely post. Captures the entwined themes of generosity of spirit, connection, diversity and mindfulness that have endured our friendship. Bravo.

  8. @Traci — thank you for stopping by and for the book tip. I’m making quite a nice list with all the great suggestions we share.
    @John — which is why it’s people who attract, not businesses. When you stop by is always a great day.
    @Marnie — and it can happen even years later. Usually it does, too.
    @Natalie — “without the internal ticker tape running” good choice of words.
    @Jack — inspiration hit at the right time. Glad you enjoyed.
    @Kevin — it was an insight I had when studying the work of experienced negotiators. I was working with a team to negotiate a JV, and devouring content about the process, and I thought, wow a conversation is a negotiation… of meaning. It is.
    @Lisa — why they are popular sayings. There is usually hard won wisdom in them.
    @Beverly — that would be a quiet and wonderful revolution, wouldn’t it?
    @Brian — and to think that “different” is seen with such suspicion by businesses.
    @Peter — thank you. Glad I managed to absorb. Your partner in listening.

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