I remember the day like it was yesterday.

I was working hard to get Rise Performance Group off the ground and profitable.  Adding to my stress, I had been working almost exclusively on one big deal. I needed it to close or I was going to be in serious trouble both financially and emotionally.

I’d spent more than three months with this potential client. I needed my hard work to pay off.

The final hurdle was getting this prospective client’s largest investor to support my proposal.  The feedback I was receiving told me that the investor was not supportive of bringing in an outsider like me.  However, my champion found a way to get me ten minutes on the agenda at an upcoming leadership meeting.  This meeting would either launch my business or be a tremendous setback.

Not only did the investor buy-in to the proposal; a few minutes into the discussion he looked at my champion and said, “I want Mark in here.  I do not care what he costs.”

How did I do it?  The same way you could have done it.

I connected with him.

You see, talent is not enough.  Knowledge is not enough.  Skill is not enough.

You can be the smartest, most skilled, most talented person in the world.  However, if you cannot connect, build relationships and work with people, you will never reach your true potential.

The great news is that you can learn to be a better connector.

What does it mean to connect?

When you connect, you relate with people in a way that allows a relationship to begin.

When you connect, people open up, there is increased communication, positive energy and positive synergy.  The person leans in and your influence begins building.

In a business context, you know you have connected when a person admits a problem that you can help them with.  This is critical because if there is no pain admitted there is rarely motivation to change.

Following are 5 proven steps to help you be a better connector and positive influencer with people.

Be Confident

In situations where believability is important and influence is the goal, what we say – the actual words we use – accounts for only 7% of what is believed.

The way we say it – our voice inflection – accounts for 38% of what is believed and what others see in our body language accounts for 55% of what they believe.

Think about that.  The actual words you use are only 7% of the believability.

Confidence shows up in your body language.  Lack of confidence manifests in looking down, shallow breathing and avoiding eye contact.

On the other hand, when a person is full of confidence they look forward, their shoulders are back, they enunciate their words, they look people in the eyes and use a firm handshake.

People are drawn to confidence and move away from people who show a lack of confidence.  People are drawn to confidence and move away from people who show a lack of confidence. Click To Tweet

Develop confidence in working with others by practicing.  Approach everyone you see, look them in the eye, reach out your hand and introduce yourself in a clear voice.  If you are introverted this will feel awkward at first.  It will become more natural the more you practice.

Model and Mirror

People like people who are like themselves.  Likewise, people tend to move away from and distrust people who are not like them.

If you want to connect faster and with more people, add flexibility to your approach by mirroring the person with whom you would like to connect.

Don’t misunderstand – I am in no way suggesting you become fake.  However, minor adjustments can make a significant impact in your ability to connect and gain influence with others.  Following are some areas you can easily mirror others:

  • Body posture – Look at their spinal alignment, hand gestures, head tilt and facial expressions and mirror their posture.
  • Pace – Try to match their energy level, breathing rate, pace of speech and use of pauses.
  • Vocal qualities – Mirror their volume, tonality and rhythm.
  • Language – Are you speaking the language of those you wish to connect? We’re not talking English to French.  I mean the same dialect – learn and use the same words, phrases and acronyms as those you wish to connect.

By the way, you often do this subconsciously already.  Pay attention the next time you feel you have really connected with someone.  See how they start to naturally mirror you and you mirror them.  Go to a restaurant or place where people gather.  Find people that are connected and are having fun together. Notice how closely they mirror each other.

Find Common Ground

Zig Ziglar taught me a long time ago, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”  People know you care when you focus on them and find something in common.

Early in my career I was taught to find something in a person’s office and talk about it.  I found this to be inauthentic.  Especially when their interests did not match mine.  However, with a little practice it is easy to find a relatable topic.

A better approach is to find interests that you both share.  To help you do that, ask questions.  A strategy to help you use questions to find common ground is to use the acrostic FORM:

  • Family – Ask questions about the person’s family, home town, schools, kids or spouse. I am amazed how often I can find common ground by simply being interested in where the person is from, how they met their significant other or learning more about their children.
  • Occupation – Ask questions about their work, how they achieved their current position and things that make their occupation unique.
  • Recreation – What do they do for fun? Sports are so popular in our society that this can be a great topic to explore and find common ground.
  • Message – Find common ground before getting to your message.

You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to find common ground with others.  I have found as I travel the country, and even the world, it is rare that I do not have something in common with someone else.  You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to find common ground with others when you try. Click To Tweet

This is a powerful strategy to use when connecting with others.  If you want to build relationships and build influence make sure you find common ground.

Focus on Others

Be more interested than interesting.  Focus on developing a natural interest in people and finding ways to validate and add value to them.  People are naturally attracted to people who make them feel good about themselves.

“If you first help people get what they want, they will help you get what you want.” ~ Zig Ziglar

In this world, there are givers and there are takers.  Takers have a scarcity mindset and rarely connect with others.  They tend to think, there’s only one pie, so I’d better get as big a slice as I can before it’s all gone.

Givers, on the other hand, live with an abundance mindset.  They recognize that if you give it eventually comes back.  People with an abundance mindset know there is always more.  Rather than concerning themselves with the size of the pie they think, That’s OK.  We’ll just bake another pie.

Be Happy

What type of people do you enjoy spending time with?  Are you more attracted to someone who is happy or someone who is unhappy?

Given a choice, most people want to spend time with people who are happy.

Happiness is a decision.  You can choose to be happy or unhappy in any given moment.  One of the quickest ways to become happy is to put on a smile.  If this is something that does not come naturally, create the habit of smiling. One of my clients even signed up to a be a greeter at church to develop a smiling habit.

Maybe you need to stop complaining and develop an attitude of gratitude. Maybe you just need to adjust your body language to appear more open and welcoming.

Do what you must to become the type of person with whom people are attracted and then take it to another level.  If you want to connect with others, do what you must to become the type of person with whom people… Click To Tweet

Martin Seligman, a leading expert on positive psychology, differentiates between three states of happiness: the pleasurable life which is based on external stimuli bringing you pleasure.  The good life which is based on intimate, personal and family relationships to bring you pleasure.  And finally, the meaningful life.  The meaningful life is a life built on finding your purpose and contributing toward the greater good.

Strive to live a meaningful life.  A good first step is to uncover your purpose. Here are two questions that can help:

  • When you are gone, what do you want people to say about you?
  • Why does your work matter and why do you matter?

Remember, talent alone is not enough.

You can be the smartest person in the world, however, if you cannot connect with people and build relationships you will never reach your true potential.

Master these 5 steps and watch your connecting and influencing skills skyrocket.  You can download our Guide to Connecting to keep these tips handy.


Ready to go deeper?  Join Mark on April 12, 2017 for his public workshop, Connect Fast and Influence People, presented by the Dallas Business Journal.  More info and register here:  http://workshops.riseperformancegroup.com/dbj


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