The Intoxication of Connection

We’re often admonished to “pay it forward” – that is, do things for others without receiving anything back. But the very term implies a form of payment….just that it’s already been received elsewhere. I prefer to think of Guy Kawasaki‘s “mensch” framework: in sum, just do the right thing…because it’s the right thing. And because I love connecting people, I’ve found myself doing it a lot as a natural course of action.

But if I’m honest with myself, I realize there is indeed a form of payment I relish: seeing exactly how my assistance leads to real, positive inspiration and change. So when people take the time to share about them, it is more than gold to me. A few highlights from this year that had an intoxicating effect for me:

  • From someone attending my HTML5DevConference talk on tools and resources for developers to become entrepreneurs:

    “Thank you for the talk. It gave me confidence that I might be able to get help for some of these crazy ideas I have knocking around in my head.”

  • Having coffee with a friend who reminded me that one introduction I made led to her taking a board seat; and another led to a key sponsorship for an event she helped promote (bonus: she even reminded them that I was the person to make the introduction in their meeting).

  • And what a kicker that is tough to top…from someone I had coffee with who beat out 300 applicants for a new job (excerpt):

    “…you were instrumental in helping me make it (to this new position). When we chatted back in March, you encouraged me to focus on my own interests, passions, and strengths. This focused my search….I wanted to thank you again for your advice that helped me find my way to this point. In fact, the Counselor told me that it was my genuine passion that made me stand out from the other candidates. For that alone, I wanted to thank you.”

Trust me, I certainly take satisfaction in being rewarded by things like recognition or money…but these instances show me that nothing quite matches the high of making a connection that leads to positive change.

So if someone helps you, take the time to loop back with them and report on the impact they had. It’s worth so much.

To a Connected 2014!

If it were common sense…

…wouldn’t it be practiced more commonly? I’m justifying some posting on what may seem to be mundane or insanely self-evident subjects. I console myself that a genius like Benjamin Franklin had similar compulsions.

So next up: calendaring. Not rocket science, right? Find a time and place and just meet the person. But now, with our increasingly complicated forms of connecting and communicating, this is evolving into an increasingly painful process. Continue reading →

If it’s been said already…

…it may still merit saying!

So much has been said about doing email introductions properly … and so much of it feels like common sense. So the only amazing thing is that people continue to do it so badly. And perhaps one of the worst parts of this phenomena is that the people making the poorly-formed requests tend to blame the person asked for not responding, when the responsibility really falls on them to make the entire process effective.

How can we eliminate this ill will and save lots of people time? It’s hard to top these posts by the prolific VC, Mark Suster…so I’ll just underscore some of these points with my own twist in the hopes that this in some small way reduces some frustration and wasted time for all in the future.

(1) Make it Forwardable: This is my ongoing mantra and listed as Suster’s #4 here. I’ve lost count of how many long email threads I have with friends or contacts sussing out how well I know someone, how I suggest reaching out to them, etc, only to end in, “Thanks!” The expectation is then for me to package up all the thinking (and whatever attachments) were embedded in the previous emails to create a version that is digestable by the prospective intro. Making me realize my friend etc. is absolutely clueless or zero in the empathic category. Continue reading →