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My former boss once told me I could connect with people like nobody’s business. 

What’s the secret sauce? Well, I am what some people call a relationship “generalist.” I try to find similar interests quickly during conversation and work to establish a “know, like & trust factor.” 

How do I find similar interests quickly? Well, I know a lot of random, general knowledge that allows for those connections to spark. I was the kid who had all the worthless bits of information that made me a whiz at Trivial Pursuit. Such a nerdy thing back then, but I do think it’s helped in my professional years. 

If you’re like me and maybe you went to college, I think I was told a million times by my professors that developing a deep level of expertise will lead to me landing my dream job, having credibility in my field and so much more. I needed to hone in my skills as a public relations and marketing professional and know EVERYTHING about my craft. 

But…here’s what I found to be the truth: 

When you can’t speak about anything else except for your craft…you’re missing out BIG TIME. You’re missing out having a level of understanding about what’s going on in the world around you….and furthermore – you’re missing out on developing rich and meaningful connections with those around you.

PRO TIP: Don’t only pay attention to your industry-related and focused material. Have a wide breadth of information that you consume. I listen to podcasts that cover the gamut from Political Gabfest to Tim Ferriss to Freakanomics and TED Radio Hour…and a host of other material.

I challenge myself to listen to different perspectives. Let me tell ya…cocktail conversations are a lot more robust when you can speak about a variety of newsworthy material. 

So…think about it. What are three topics you’d like to learn more about? How can you broaden your scope of knowledge? I challenge you to find at least one thing you can do this week that’ll help you become more of a generalist.

Do you remember in grade school…we all tried so hard to do and say the “right” things so we could make friends?

Fast forward 20-30 years and most of us still are working at it! 🙂

Connecting with your social networks and developing rich, meaningful relationships differentiates the good leaders from the great ones.

I found some interesting research about how humans are wired to connect. Emerging research indicates that social networks strongly shape our health and happiness, in part, because the support of our friends and families reduces the impact of stress on our brains and bodies. Recent research shows that social networks even shape how we use our brains to make decisions. [Reference: Michael Platt Ph.D. Fine-tuning Human Performance]

When I’m talking to someone new, my rule of thumb is to try and find those tidbits of information about that person that I can relate to. Let me give you an example….

When I first started meeting people in the Dallas market, I would be “set up” by a friend of mine to meet a friend of hers. We’d meet for coffee, and I would quickly scan my new friend and pay attention to details.

Below is my mental checklist:

We as humans have a deep desire to connect with others. We are wired for relationships.

Do your part of the relationship building process and put down your phone and genuinely show interest in connecting. You’ll find that people are eager to connect, have a desire to help, and want to be your friend.