As I gradually re-emerge from motherhood and become a working mama, one thing has become very clear: my peeps are amazing. What I am talking about are my professional relationships. I am one of the lucky ones who gets to choose my colleagues and they are full of passion, ideas, inspiration and a real desire to add value to people, communities and the world - stuff that jazzes me up a lot.
Rewarding professional and personal connections are not something anyone can obtain automatically. We have to recognize their value and then nurture them. Successful people realize that the lone ranger approach doesn't create half the results. Here are some of the best and most immediate benefits of having colleagues that rock!:
- Inspiration - as a self-employed professional I have realized that the single most valuable feeling to have is inspiration. It gives us the fuel for the fire and without the fire business goes flat. Colleagues who are good at what they do provide plenty of that.
- Ideas - I receive the best ideas from conversations with others. A story from someone else often sparks a brilliant idea that I can apply right away to increase my impact.
- Opportunities - most of our significant breaks come when others open doors for us. These can be as subtle as invites to attend, meet and address or be as rich as referrals and job offers.
- Connection - humans thrive on connection, it's what drives us. We need to bring that into our day-to-day business functions in order to stay excited, fulfilled and growing something of value, extrinsically and intrinsically.
Quite obviously it's not what you know but who you know that dictates our level of impact and success. How can we cultivate more amazing connections. Very simply:
- Open up. Maybe not the floodgate on the first meeting but don't be afraid to be yourself. People like and trust people they know, and that they know are not perfect. In fact, they'll like you more when you aren't trying to impress by dropping names or listing off your accomplishments. You'll be more memorable by sharing something you care about on a deeper level such as significant experiences, tidbits about your family, business dreams and lifestyle choices. Colleagues are people first and foremost and remembering that will build your rapport.
- Give, give and give some more. Don't wait for someone to mention you or Twitter, give you praise or Like you on Facebook before you dish out a bunch of support, unsolicited. The game of abundance is not tit for tat so keep giving again and again. Inevitably, the more you give the more you will get back and benefit sooner from the free love coming your way. Give like you want to receive.
- Pay if forward. When you do receive invites, praise, referrals and so on, acknowledge it quickly. Keep the cycle going by letting others know that you appreciate it and you'll make them feel good for giving to you. Social media has played a huge role in increasing our ability to "shout out" to colleagues and deliver public thanks for support. Learn from these examples.
- Just ask. One of the most obvious and overlooked ways to stay connected to people who really matter is to simply let them know you value your relationship. Consider forming a loose bond where support is given informally or step this up by arranging formal alliances. Some ways to do that include doing a trade for services, forming a mastermind group that meets regularly or providing each other with testimonials, mentions and referrals on a regular basis.
Take charge and own your relationships to enhance your job, business and life. You'll feel that much more connection, inspiration and love in everything you do. Love? Yes, love! It's why we do what we do.