(What? You’re not in it? Join here.) We’ve got thousands of women—myself included—stepping up to answer each others’ questions, offer support and provide a pat on the virtual back for things well done.
Connecting in this way and IRL is a key component of financial success. Research conducted for my book “The Difference” showed that people who identified as “financially comfortable” or “wealthy” were more satisfied with their social lives and their communities than people living paycheck to paycheck. And that’s not the only piece of research on the matter. Other studies show that more successful managers spend more time a) networking and b) communicating than less successful ones. So, as we head into 2019, how can you connect in ways that improve your life financially and otherwise?
Rely On Tech, But Not Completely
Yes, technology is great. You want to be in the right groups. If it’s been eons since you updated your LinkedIn page, it’s long past time. And it is true that a person’s first impression of you may very well be based on the image you’re projecting online. But you also have to get offline. Pick up the phone, talk face to face, have coffee, schmooze. The more recently you’ve had actual contact with someone, the more likely your name will come to mind if an opportunity presents itself.
Build Relationships—Don’t Just Transact
Sometimes we need something from the people in our networks. We need a connection. A recommendation. A favor. If you have an actual relationship with someone, it’s much easier to ask for the favor than if your back and forth has been just a matter of passing papers across a desk (or worse, via email.) Having coffee or going for a drink, eating lunch together or hopping on the next treadmill at the office gym may seem like time-wasters. They’re anything but. People like to do things for people they like. (P.S.: If someone asks you for something that will help them out, this is also the reason to do it. No, you’re not actively keeping tabs. But these things do have a way of coming back to you.)
Be Selective in Your Joining
We’re all time starved—there’s plenty of data on that. So, when you’re going to put your energy and effort into a project that’s not required (joining a committee, a board, volunteering for something) make sure that you are not pulling a Marcia Brady. (If you’re too young to remember this—entering her freshman year of high school, she decided to join every club.) Fewer, deeper interactions are better. You not only need to show up, you need to show up as a leader, because leaders are memorable. So, make sure you’ve got a strong rationale for your choice of organizations and that you’ve got the desire to make an impact over time.
Give a Little to Get a Little
Beyond the happiness and life satisfaction it brings (and it does bring both), one goal of connecting is to become a person that others are willing to help. One thing I’ve learned over a long career of reporting is that offering up a little bit of you is often what it takes to get someone to do the same in return. So, plant the seed. If you see a colleague having a particularly difficult week, ask if you can take something specific off their to-do list. If you know that someone really wants to meet someone else that you know, offer to make that connection.
Listen to This Podcast
Erica Keswin, author of the best-selling book “Bring Your Human To Work” (and a self-described “connector”) has loads of strategies for building better, stronger, deeper relationships. She shared on this recent episode of the HerMoney Podcast (and we got a little crush.)
Take This Quiz
As I wrote in my book, “The Difference,” Researcher Charles S. Carver developed a number of helpful diagnostic tools over the course of his career. Here’s his test to determine if you’re sufficiently connected for financial—and life—success. Here’s how to take this test:
Think back to the last time you had a problem, a real issue. It could be a problem you faced at work. It could be a problem you faced at home. Then answer the following questions on a scale of 0 to 4 with 0 being not at all and 4 being completely.
- How much did the primary person/most important people in your life give you advice or information about that problem (whether you wanted it or not?)
- How much did that person/those people help you with things related to your problem (for example, taking other items off your plate so you could focus, helping you find the right sources of information/additional support)?
- How much did that person/those people give you reassurance, encouragement, and emotional support (affection) concerning your problem?
- How much did that person/those people listen to and try to understand your worries about your problem?
- How much can you relax and be yourself around that person/those people?
- How much can you open up to that person/those people if you need to talk about your worries about your problem?
- How often does that person/those people argue with you relating to your problem?
- How often does that person/those people criticize you relating to your problem?
- How often does that person/those people let you down when you are counting on him/her/them?
- How often does that person/those people withdraw from discussions about your problem or try to change the topic away from your problem?
Scoring: Score questions 1 through 6 on the straight 0 to 4 scale, with 0 being not-at-all and 4 being completely. Reverse-score questions 7 through 10. If you answered with a 4, give yourself a 0; a 3 becomes a 1; a 2 remains a 2.
The highest score is 40 out of 40. If you scored 30 and above, you have a decent amount of support in your life. 20 and above, you have a moderate amount but also feel like more would be beneficial. Below 20, this is an area where you could use some work. I know that sounds strange, to say you need work.
After all, we are looking at the behavior of others—behaviors that are not in your control. But the truth is, those other people are reacting to the energy, feelings and effort you put out to them. By altering your own behaviors, you can influence those that come back to you. You can drive whether people have a positive or negative experience in your presence. And that makes all “The Difference” in the world.