How to Quickly Build Connection

How to Quickly Build Connection 150 150 Jason Lauritsen

In 2012, I published my first book, Social Gravity, with my coauthor and long-time BFF, Joe Gerstandt.

We wrote the book to share what we had learned about the importance of networks and relationships to achieve important things in your life.

Joe and I met while working at a small, headhunting firm that made Michael Scott’s Dunder Mifflin in The Office look like a healthy, productive workplace. Our day-to-day work was hard and management was, at best, dysfunctional.

Fortunately, the owner of our firm believed in a work-hard/play-hard mantra so we had a lot of office social functions. These included golfing, happy hours, riding jet skis, and trips. So, in spite of the misery of our day-to-day work, it was easy to make friends.

This created the opportunity for me and Joe to meet and become friends. By nature of being the smarter of the two of us, Joe didn’t stay at this firm very long before moving on to another job, but we were connected for the long haul.

We shared a passion for making the work around us better, and together we tried to make it happen. We began by starting a couple of non-profit organizations. That evolved into speaking, writing, and hosting retreats together.

As I look back on all that Joe and I have done together, it’s pretty amazing. I’m not sure I would have done any of it had it not been for Joe. It was our relationship and connection that threw the sparks and gave us the confidence to go create and make things happen.

While my relationship with Joe has had a huge impact on what I’ve accomplished in my life, he’s not the only one. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of people who have propelled me forward or made me a better person throughout my life.

In fact, the older I get, the more aware I am that for everything I’ve accomplished that really matters in my life, I can point to a particular person or people who helped make it possible. There’s nothing that I’ve done completely on my own.

Our success is a product of not just our effort or talents, but also of the people who surround us.

Anyone who tells you they’ve accomplished great things all on their own is either delusional or oblivious to all the people who have supported and enabled them. We are interconnected and interdependent.

Connection matters in more ways than one.

Over the past year, there has been a lot of focus on the importance of connection in both our personal and work lives. Loneliness was an epidemic before COVID arrived, and it’s only gotten worse.

Our connection with other humans has very real consequences on our mental health and well-being. But there are so many other benefits.

When Joe and I wrote Social Gravity, we were making the case that having a big, robust network of relationships (what we called “your posse”) was perhaps the most powerful tool you could have if you wanted to do things of real consequence in your life.

That is as true today as it was when we started working on that book 15 years ago. A strong network gives you access to “social capital,” the resources and advantages available to you through your relationships with others.

As managers, teaching your team the value and power of relationships can help you amplify performance and innovation. When people are more connected, they tend to be more resilient and more creative.

In our book, Joe and I outline the six laws of social gravity. These laws provide the “how” to build a network of quality relationships. Rather than get into all the six laws here, I’ll share two recommendations that you can use right away to begin cultivating greater connection for yourself or your team.

1. Be helpful to others.

One of the most powerful laws of social gravity is “use karma.” As humans, we have a natural inclination towards reciprocity. In other words, we are driven to keep balance in our relationships with others. So, when someone does us a favor or is helpful, we are motivated to repay that favor.

The act of helping others creates a sort of natural bond between you. When you help someone else, it’s like making a karma investment in your network. The more you help others, the more they want to be helpful to you. And, as a bonus, helping others also feels good. It’s a true win-win.

2. Express gratitude to those who have played a significant role in your success and happiness.

Maybe the biggest overlooked opportunity to build connection is with the people you are already connected with. A network of relationships is like a garden. It requires regular and ongoing care and feeding.

If you aren’t working to actively stay in touch with people, the connection weakens with time. But, unlike gardening, it’s rarely ever too late to reconnect with people you knew in the past.

As we (hopefully) near the end of the pandemic, now is a great time to reach out to people and invest in those relationships.

One powerful way to do this is with gratitude. I invite you to do the following.

  • Reflect on your career (or life). Think about the people who played even a small role in supporting or encouraging you along the way. Maybe they referred you to get a job or introduced you to your significant other. Or maybe they had your back in a meeting when you really needed it, or they were encouraging when you struggled. Make a list of names.
  • Reach out and say thank you to each of those people. You can send an email, make a post on social media, send a text, or go old school and call them on the phone.

You’ll be surprised and delighted by what happens.

A few years ago, through a random conversation, the name of an instructor I’d had for a college class was brought up. I hadn’t heard her name in decades, but I instantly remembered the impact she’d had on me.

I decided to send her an email. The subject line was “Gratitude.” In the email, I shared with her the impact she’d had on me all those years ago and said thank you.

She responded to me quickly with a really lovely email, and we’ve stayed in contact ever since. I’d surely do her a favor should she ever need one, and I suspect she would say the same about me.

Make your list and reach out with your gratitude and appreciation. You’ll be glad you did, and your network of relationships will begin to grow immediately.

Happy connecting.

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Jason Lauritsen