“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” – Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People
I don’t care what your goals, industry or interests are, there’s no getting around it.
Personal relationships run the world. But why is it that some people seem to build instant rapport with most anyone they come across, while others are left with a network of one?
Over the past few years, I’ve conducted a study of exactly what sets these people apart. Turns out, the results are more simple, and more powerful, than you’d think. And they led me to interactions and connections with world-class CEOs, best-selling authors, professional athletes and other seemingly untouchable folks, including Tony Robbins and Warren Buffett.
Regardless of status or fame, people are people.
And the seven pillars of making a connection with another person are always the same — whether applied to your next-door neighbor, one of the world’s biggest celebrities or even the cute girl sitting at the bar:
1. Be genuine.
The only connections that work will be the ones that you truly care about; the world will see through anything short of that. If you don’t have a genuine interest in the person with whom you’re trying to connect, then stop trying.
2. Provide help.
Even the most powerful people in the world have something they’d like help with. Too many people never reach out to those above them due to the fear that they wouldn’t be able to offer anything in return.
But you have more to offer than you realize. If you own a blog, write a post about them. Share their project with your social network or develop a video interview, and give them a platform to spread their message. Put some thought into who you could connect with to benefit their goals. If it turns out that you can’t be helpful, the gesture alone will stand out.
3. Pay attention.
It’s nearly impossible to genuinely offer help if you don’t pay attention to — I mean real attention. Not just what business they started or what sport they like! Do your research by reading news articles, blog posts, and books about the person beforehand. Learn about their background and passions. Invest genuine time in learning what truly matters to them and how you can help.
4. Connect with people close to them.
Most job openings are filled through networking and referrals. Making business connections is no different. You automatically arrive with credibility when referred to someone you want to meet by a mutual friend. For example, I recently wanted to meet a best-selling author, and it turned out we had the same personal trainer.
In reality, that fact means nothing, but in the world of social dynamics, it’s a golden opportunity. Spend more time connecting with your current network of friends and colleagues and see where it leads.
5. Be persistent.
If you can’t get a direct referral, simply send an email or leave a voicemail.
But do not stop there, as most the world tends to. The first attempt is just the very beginning. Realize that the first attempt may get you nowhere, but the fifth or the tenth attempts are the ones that start to yield results.
An unreturned email or voicemail doesn’t mean they don’t want to connect with you. It’s your job to be persistent! I sometimes get hundreds of requests in a day from readers who want to connect, but approximately 2 percent actually follow up. Don’t be in a hurry, but don’t be invisible either.
6. Make real friends.
Think about how you’ve made the friends you have. You hopefully make friends with people you genuinely want in your life. The same rule should go for “bigger-than-life” people in your industry. Don’t over-think
7. Be unforgettable.
All of the above are simple — yet sadly underused — ways of standing out.
Send birthday cards. Even if you don’t send one in the mail, there are plenty of funny birthday ecards from Hallmark. Mail your favorite book with a signed personal note from you on the inside flap. Send them your family Christmas card. Be genuinely helpful. You’d be surprised how the simplest things actually never get done. Being memorable isn’t as hard as some think.
Interestingly enough, making personal connections all comes back to helping others. If you spent 100 percent of your waking hours thinking about how you can help everyone you come in contact with — from the woman who makes your latte, to the top authority in your industry — you will find everything else tends to take care of itself.
The world will suddenly be in your corner.
Photo Credit: Lacoste
Scott Dinsmore is the founder of Live Your Legend, a coaching and digital product company helping people build a career around work they love. He’s also a Managing Partner at Cumbre Capital, a value investment partnership modeled after the Buffett Partnerships of the ’50s and ’60s. Scott loves a good adventure. Connect with Scott on Twitter.