For those tired of tech-driven, transactional networking, a guide to reclaiming the power of human contact―and a new approach for developing lasting and fulfilling personal connections.
Today, people have hundreds of “friends” on Facebook and countless “contacts” on LinkedIn, so why do so many of us feel disconnected? In The Lost Art of Connecting, Susan McPherson presents a paradigm shift for the way we make meaningful connections in business and in life.
While social media platforms make it easier for people to connect with those they want to reach, these interactions are often dehumanizing, feel transactional, and agenda-driven. McPherson explains that we need to go back to basics and connect in an entirely new way, using technology as a tool and not a means to an end. We need a paradigm shift: one in which we look for ways to answer “how can I help?” as well as an opportunity to shine the light on others. Her methodology is broken down into three simple steps:
1. Gather: Instead of waiting for the perfect networking event to happen, think outside of the box and create your own opportunity―but keep it simple. A dinner party, a bake-sale, a dog park meetup of fellow pup lovers, or a volunteer effort at your neighborhood food pantry. Start by looking within: What is your purpose in life? What constellations of connections do you most need? If you are willing to be completely yourself, to be brave, and to get uncomfortable (within reason, of course!) the constellation you seek to create will more easily fall into shape. Proactively seek diversity and find connectors who can further expand your reach.
2. Ask: Instead of leading with our own rehearsed elevator pitches asking for help, we instead offer our assistance and support―opening the door to share resources, experience, contacts, and perspectives that add diversity to our own vision. By giving of ourselves first, receiving help later becomes an organic manifestation of the seeds you planted by offering first and will take a relationship from a casual or one-off acquaintance into a deeper and more meaningful relationship. Make it easy for someone else to say yes with tactics like the 5-minute ask or offering three ways someone else can help you.
3. Do: Turn new connections into meaningful relationships by taking these newly formed relationships deeper. Follow through on the promises you made, keep in touch, and learn to move past small talk by embracing your vulnerability and having conversations that matter. In this part, McPherson will also teach readers how to tackle the tough but important follow-up tasks like raising funds for a cause, knowing how much money or time you can give, drawing the line on what you can offer as a favor and what you need to be compensated for. Most importantly, readers will learn how to help the other person feel seen, safe and secure. If you can find people’s uniqueness or “secret sauce,” what McPherson calls their “Chief Differentiating Factor” and show it to them―they’ll never forget it.
Shot through with equal doses of humor, humility, and encouragement, The Lost Art of Connecting is the handbook everyone needs to catapult their way to success in a way that is fulfilling, sustainable and blurs the line between work and play. McPherson draws on her own experience starting a communications firm and cites stories of experts like Baratunde Thurston, Tiffany Dufu, Whitney Johnson and Adam Grant, who have spent their careers building meaningful connections into successful enterprises.