Posted on Monday, 12 May 2014 in Business Skills

Real business success lies in connecting with people

Veteran start-up mentor, Marty Zwilling, recently wrote on Huffington Post that entrepreneurship is more about building a business than inventing a product. It’s about execution as opposed to the quality of an idea and most importantly, being a proactive leader who connects both to his team and his customers. 


In his recent book, “Infectious: how to connect deeply and unleash the energetic leader within”, business coach and author Achim Nowack talks about how today’s technology allows leaders to communicate at a furious pace, tweeting, emailing and texting more than ever before. And yet, too many leaders know less than ever about how to connect and get others to commit to their business or product. 

Zwilling adds that he sees this in his work with start-ups all too frequently – the amount of noise they make does not always equate to the growth of the business or the quality of their connections. 


In his book, Nowack mentions four levels of communication and maintains that successful entrepreneurs connect
most deeply with others at the highest level, with less effort and more results. 


The first level is the social level – the surface of many business experiences. Whilst many people never leave this level, it is best to move past it quickly in order to create deeper connections. The next level, connecting through personal power, is an ability possessed by most entrepreneurs: using personal knowledge and strengths to get them past the social level. These include professional expertise, existing relationships and passion for your cause, for example. Level three, shaping the intent of your connection, is about consciously shaping conversations in terms of their tone and intent. Finally, level four concerns the energy and passion you put into forming relationships – visible and verbal energy cues are recognised by customers, partners and team members alike. 


For many business people, forging deep relationships is merely a question of dumping bad habits. 


For example, finding common ground, while a great conversation starter, will not get you very far if forced. Take your time finding out what you do have in common, but remember to relish the things that you do not have in common. 


Stop avoiding controversial topics. In business, having the confidence to disagree, learn new points of view or explore controversy is where lasting relationships are built. 


Show where you are vulnerable: if you never take any risks to show your personal cracks you will seem like a business robot, and few people will want to work with you. Indeed, the power of a vulnerable moment should not be underestimated when it comes to making connections. 


Too many people do not take the time to build real relationships with their connections, for fear of becoming stuck with the ‘loser’ - to the extent they form very few relationships at all. “It is more powerful to connect with a few key people than to skim the surface with many,” says Nowack.


Don’t try to be perfect – you’ll negate all that isn’t perfect, such as an unrehearsed encounter or learning to solve a business problem. 


In today’s market, people make decisions and commitments based on connections and relationships and not on technology. Moreover, humans need relationships to be healthy and happy. Zwilling urges business people to use these tips to improve their connections and ultimately, grow their businesses. 


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