Strong connections are essential if organizations are to thrive. When leaders sow connections mutual benefits are shared and your organization gains strength.
How do you make your “garden” grow strong connections?
Visualize your harvest in view of your organization’s mission, values and future vision. Consider the nature of key people and organizations involved in strong, synergistic relationships with you.
Plan your garden of relationships. Lay out the purposes of the relationships, and consider the people and organizations that will naturally support your organization. Select only relationships you truly care about.
Prepare the ground. Identify the benefits your organization can deliver to others. Determine who can best deliver those. Consider the kind of people you want to connect with and ask:
- Where do they gather?
- How are they involved in their community?
- How can we contribute to their goals?
Plant seeds. Examine your current connections for potential stronger relationships. Search for new connections using websites and social media. Ask individuals in your network for specific suggestions and to help you make an initial contact.
Once contact has been made, be upfront about why their organization attracts you, and share your perception of the mutual benefits that could accrue. Outline the interests you share. Ask to meet to explore these possibilities.
Nourish the connection. Seek to understand before being understood. Ask questions to evoke positive feelings. Reflect upon their mission and values. Learn about their background, their passions, and what truly matters to them. Let your passions come out.
Unearth how they might be helped and offer what you can deliver – with no indication of expected returns. Be genuinely helpful. Contribute time, money and intellect to their causes.
Continually connect. Use social media for the most frequent interactions; but meet face-to-face regularly. Remember milestones in their organization’s life. Be human and allow friendships to grow.
Harvest. When others, with whom you are connected, hear that you need something they can deliver, they will return those benefits to you. Accept their contributions and reap the rewards. Express your sincere gratitude.
When organizations cultivate strong connections, everyone enjoys a bountiful harvest of benefits and greater success.