Live-tweeting your bikini wax is not vulnerability. Nor is posting a blow-by-blow of your divorce. That’s an attempt to hot-wire connection. But you can’t cheat real connection. It’s built up slowly. It’s about trust and time – Brene Brown
We appear to be living in an age of extremes. On the one hand obsessing about the quantity of ‘friends’, connections and size of the databases we are trying to build. On the other, struggling with the busyness of life and keeping in touch with said ‘friends’.
We are suffering with a deficiency of time to pay any depth of attention to anything. Often time is spread so thinly that the depth of connection is not deep at all; surface level conversations and discussions become as normal as a debate about the weekend’s weather and we are so caught up in quantity that we forget the best things do, in fact, come in small packages.
When does networking become something more than the transactional swapping of business cards, the click of a ‘like’ button or simply an add to the mailing list?
Back in the 1990s, British anthropologist Robin Dunbar proposed that humans can only comfortably maintain 150 stable relationships in terms of knowing people by name and the ability to keep in social contact with said group. He suggests that anything larger than this naturally results in sub-groups being created as a new 150 tribe is created.
There is no doubt that in today’s digitally connected world we have the opportunity to build trust and influence one to one, more to more and many to many. There is also no doubt that we are more capable of driving change together than we ever are alone.
I would add to Robin Dunbar’s thinking that real influence, impact and momentum starts with a significantly smaller circle of influence. One where you are smack bang in the centre. It is here that transformational connections are made possible – a small group of people providing quality of thinking, creating new perspectives, pushing you further than you could ever go alone, supporting you and equally taking great pleasure is seeing you succeed and achieving dreams.
This is when connections have the ability to transform thinking, behaviour and impact. This is when connected you becomes influential you – where you can change the game, make the impossible possible, inspire others to take action, connect people with ideas and dreams and ultimately connect those ideas and dreams to action, to a new reality.
In our time deficient world where dreams of change are big, where visions of a future are ours to own, making connections has to be about the real and the genuine – about the interplay of a select group of people who are working closely together, strategically creating plans to succeed.
Look closely at your network. Go on – take a long hard look at it and find those core few because they are there and they will help you achieve your dreams.
It’s time to stop network transacting and, in its place, build transformative connections. Invest time and energy, exchange value mutually, because on the other side of this investment lies trust, depth of understanding, connected visions and the achievement of goals.