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Will COVID Change The Way We Approach Networking?

Written by: Melissa Dawn, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

One thing the pandemic has made clear is the importance of healthy, supportive relationships. When it comes to networking, those usually aren’t the relationships that come to mind. It’s time to change that.


For many people, this time of social distancing, remote work and virtual get-togethers has been an opportunity to get perspective on their personal and professional networks. Many have been surprised by the people they genuinely missed… and those they didn’t. They’ve grieved the loss of certain gatherings and felt relief at the built-in excuse to miss others. In limiting physical contact, they’ve had to prioritize certain relationships over others and dig into the reasons behind their choices.

It’s been eye-opening for so many of us, often in a good way. If you have realized you want to focus your energy on genuine connections, you may be wondering how that will impact your work life. After all, we know the value of a strong professional network.


Is it possible to prioritize genuine connection and build a successful network? Yes.


Here are 3 reasons why and 4 ways to make it happen:


3 Reasons Why Genuine Connections Make Successful Networks


1. We really only support people if we want to.

The main value in a good network is supporting each other. You share opportunities, reach out for advice, bounce ideas off each other, make introductions and so on. We really only do that with people we genuinely connect with. We don’t hear of an opportunity and immediately think of that person who added us on LinkedIn last week. Instead, we think of the person we have genuine conversations with, look forward to seeing at the annual conference, or always have a side chat with during Zoom calls. Shallow surface connections may build a large network, but without genuine connection, they don’t build an active, supportive one.

2. We sense authenticity, even if we aren’t aware of it.

An authentic connection is something we feel. We’ve all had experiences of meeting someone and just knowing, intuitively, that their interest in us is insincere. Whatever their true motives, we know it isn’t to really get to know us.


Even if we don’t think it through, we feel authenticity (or lack of it) in our bodies, hearts and minds.


3. We aren’t meant to be everyone’s cup of tea.

And that’s a good thing! Genuine connection happens when both sides let their true selves shine through. Our true selves aren’t going to connect with everyone and that’s ok. We’re meant to find our tribes the people we fit with at the heart level. On the surface, we might connect with people around common interests, beliefs or ways of thinking. On the heart level, we connect in deep, intuitive ways. It’s that very peaceful feeling of enjoying being in someone’s company that we can only feel when we’ve dropped our masks. When we connect at the heart level, we can appreciate and embrace different interests, beliefs and ways of thinking.


4 Ways to Make Authentic Connection Happen


To connect with others at the heart level, you first need to connect with yourself at that level. Everything about you is worthy of acceptance. When someone doesn’t accept parts of you, that’s their wound to heal, not yours. Practice accepting yourself, fully, as a perfectly imperfect human being, worthy of your life, and worthy of connecting with other perfectly imperfect human beings.


Your purpose is your guiding star. As you move along your path, continually reconnect to your purpose to keep yourself aligned. In terms of building a healthy network, it’s a really good thing to have a diverse network of people who open your eyes to new perspectives and challenge you to discover more about yourself and the world. It’s good IF those connections are not pulling you away from what truly matters to you. Anytime our way of being or thinking is challenged, it can feel uncomfortable. Growth is uncomfortable! Reconnecting with your purpose helps you determine if something feels uncomfortable because it’s helping you grow, or uncomfortable because it isn’t right for you.


Boundaries are a fundamental element of authentic connection. They empower us to connect deeply with others while honoring our true selves and what matters to us. Boundaries are often talked about in terms of personal relationships. But here’s the thing: if you want authentic professional relationships, you have to treat them as personal relationships. Because authenticity IS personal. Think about the boundaries that are important to you. Consider your deal breakers. Think about the great, and not-great relationships you’ve had in the past, and what characteristics stand out to you. Get clear on the boundaries you need first.


Consider the questions you ask, how you ask them, and how you listen to responses. This is one of the most powerful things you can practice in terms of cultivating better relationships. Let’s say you meet someone at a workshop. Some deep dive questions might be, “What intrigued you about this workshop?” or “I’m hoping this workshop will help me transition to a leadership role. What about you?” or even “I don’t really know what to expect today. Have you attended something like this before?” I recently heard someone say they like to ask people if they have pets. They’ll either talk about their current pet, a pet they had as a child or a pet they want, but whichever way they answer, it always seems to bring authenticity forward :)


Genuine connections fuel us. They support us, lift us up, and give us the gift of supporting others. Surface relationships, however, drain us. They usually have us showing up in inauthentic ways and lacking all the benefits of a strong social network. COVID has been a massive tragedy AND there are opportunities within it to create a better normal. Let’s make our networking approach part of that better normal.


Follow Melissa on her Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, and visit her website for more information.


 

Melissa Dawn, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Melissa Dawn is a renowned speaker, author, coach, and founder of CEO of Your Life. She is a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach (CPCC), a Professional Certified Coach (PCC), a Certified Team Performance Coach (CTPC) and Conscious Coach, Certified Master Practitioner of Energy Medicine with The Four Winds, and holds a Bachelor of Commerce. She is also the bestselling author of I Attract What I Am: Transform Failure into an Orgasmically Joyful Life and Business and was named one of Hubspot’s Best Coaching Services worldwide for 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022.


Melissa guides others to drop their masks, reconnect with their core selves and put themselves firmly in the CEO seat of their own lives. She believes that what makes us different is how we bring the greatest value to the world and ourselves.

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