by Tony Esteves
Unexpected connections are happening around us at all times. I find this very exciting because to me it means that we are constantly surrounded with opportunities.
What is an unexpected connection? I define it as an interaction with a person or group of people who unexpectedly give you a message, idea or contact that could be, or lead to an opportunity. Far too often we don’t take notice of these connections, or play with them to our benefit. But it is easy to do so if we take the time to be present, slow down a little and see what’s going on around us.
The scary thing for some, is that this involves actually (gasp!) talking to real, live people!
The book Superconnect, by Richard Koch and Greg Lockwood, is about how networks operate and how we use them in our lives. They identify, “weak links” as the people on the periphery of our experience as opposed to, “strong links” – the people who know us very closely such partners, family members or immediate colleagues.
Koch and Lockwood explain that there can be great power in actively connecting with these weak links to move your personal or professional life forward. Stating that, when you engage with a weak link you gain access to their entire world of resources and contacts. Their world might be totally different than yours and could therefore be bountiful with opportunity.
Have you ever landed a job through a friend or an acquaintance that you did not know very well? It turns out that most of us have.
Who are the weak links in your life? With today’s technology, the chances are good that you have hundreds of them. Old colleagues or classmates; that person who you spoke with while in line, or someone who you surprisingly felt comfortable speaking with at the mandatory office ‘social night’.
I recently tested this while on a flight back from a conference last month in Florida with great results. I put down my book and started a conversation with the person who was sitting next to me. I had the intention of finding how this stranger and I could possibly help move each others lives forward. She is now a client of mine and is excited to help me build my career. Fantastic!
Now that is the power of weak links!
I’m not advocating stuffing your business card into every person’s hand that you meet. But I do recommend being more open to conversations with those people in your life who you wouldn’t normally take the time to speak with. Share your ideas and goals and ask questions. Listen. If you hear the statement, “Hey I know a person who…” when talking about what you do (or want to do), dig deeper. You might be amazed at what you learn.
Invite these unexpected connections into your life by being courageous enough to make a human connection and see what happens. Such events have already shaped your life in many more ways than you know. Now that you are aware of them, why not see what opportunities you can help create?
Tony Esteves is presenting Lead from Within: Serving up collaboration at Mindcamp 2013.