Mindfulness in Business
In today’s business world, we are often meeting people online before we meet them off-line. We are checked out on Google or through social sites such as LinkedIn. With all the noise and seemingly mindless activity happening on social media, I wonder how mindful professionals build strategic relationships?
Mindfulness is a term we are hearing more often in the business world, some think of it as the latest buzz word, regardless the idea has sparked conversation around being more purposeful in our lives including our work.
Professionals that are mindful or purposeful tend to develop quality relationships and are not concerned about the quantity. They are willing to invest time in learning and nurturing their most important connections. Strategic relationships drive our professional goals whether that is prospecting for the clients, building a networking group of referral partners, building influence with leaders, connecting with members of a corporate team or looking for our next job opportunity.
According to Peter Beaumont, author of “The Relationship Roadmap: The Professional Guide for Strategically Building & Maintaining your Business Contacts”, to form genuine relationships that will stand the test of time, we need to engage with people, listen to people and share experiences.” I am concerned that social media has made us less social in terms of face to face or voice to voice engagement. I wonder, are we hiding behind social media?
Peter Beaumont goes on to say “Relationships really are important to us and we have to guard against digitizing them into contact collectibles. They need to be worked at and formed on mutual trust and respect, as they are vital to a successful business.”
So out of your 1,000 LinkedIn connections, how many of these people are you really building a relationship with? Do you circle back and engage people you have accepted into your network?
Here are 7 ways professionals build strategic relationships and become mindful connectors:
1. Be Intentional
What types of relationships do you want?
Who do you want to know within an organization?
Having a clear intention before you start is key to not only saving time but ultimately getting the results you want.
2. Be Present & Get Curious
Mindfulness is about paying attention to the present moment. Concentrate on listening, and engaging rather than mentally being off to the next task ahead. Even if you are sitting at your desk with LinkedIn open on your screen and you are scouring the site remind yourself of what your intention for the day is and be present to that. When you view someone’s profile, be curious enough to learn more about them by reading their entire profile. There are nuggets revealed once you get past their first experience section and move down into their interests, volunteer activities, organizations they belong to and where they went to school.
Have you had the experience at a networking event when you are having a conversation with someone and you see their eyes shift away like they are scanning the room for someone else and in that moment, you know that is no longer listening to you?
Whether you are in-person or know your intentions for wanting to build a new relationship with someone. That doesn’t mean we must know what will result from the relationship because all good relationships grow in time, but have some clear idea from the beginning.
3. Find Opportunities to Be Genuine
That means skipping the typical networking speak to be who you really are. Ask meaningful questions and comment on the personal side of someone’s LinkedIn or other social media profile. Comment for example on an organization they volunteer for that also holds meaning for you. Let the real you shine through because people will respond. Being genuine means giving freely without expectation. Those who adopt a giving mentality or another way to describe it is that they look for ways to deliver value. These are the people that build trust and respect over time.
4. Let Your Connections Know They Are Heard
We know we are heard when someone takes the time to make a thoughtful comment and engage us in conversation whether in-person or on social media. Unfortunately, we’ve become lazy when it comes to social media networking, we like to give people the ‘thumbs up’ and think we’ve really connected when in fact I believe people simply ignore that gesture. Letting someone know they are heard means reading an article they posted and leaving a comment or messaging them congratulations on something you just learned about them.
5. Engage in Relevant Discussion
If you want to be influential in your industry, community or other niches, you want to be relevant. Posting obscure information that is neither relevant to you or what you want to be known for is not purposeful or meaningful, and a waste of time. Be a giver by engaging a connection in a conversation around a topic that they are an expert or have experience in. This will build deeper and more meaningful relationship.
6. Nurture Your Professional Network
Collecting names is a lot like collecting coins. They may be interesting, they may even be valuable but if you never do anything with them you won’t know. That doesn’t mean we can have a relationship with every person we connect with on social media, but if you are intentional with whom you want to associate, work on that core list and make it part of your activities to nurture the relationships you foresee as long-term investments in building relational value.
7. Be Interested and Be Interesting
Lastly, if you want to build a professional network of people that is meaningful as well as useful, then you want to be both interested and interesting. Being interested in others is what starts and builds a true relationship. Engaging them in meaningful conversation, asking for their opinion or letting them know you appreciate something about them are actions you would take with a best friend or family member, so why not a professional relationship?
How to be interesting can start with what you say in your professional LinkedIn profile. Because we are checked out online before we meet offline, how do you represent yourself and your personal brand along with what makes you interesting are all questions that you want to answer within your professional profiles. Conversely, you want to read in detail the profiles of others you want to connect with – learn their history and scour their profile for ideas to engage in a meaningful dialogue.
Here’s a reality check:
People do business and connect with those they know, like and trust. How will you build a relationship that earns trust? Having a relationship plan in place before you connect still ultimately saves you time and garner better results.
Being a mindful connector elevates the quality of our professional networks and provides opportunity to meet and engage with interesting people all over the world.