Building a bridge is an art. Not literal bridges that you drive over, although those are incredibly important.... I'm referring to building bridges in business, friendships, co-workers, mentors, and key partnerships. I'm referring to building a new relationship with your neighbor. I'm referring to connecting with someone that you've wanted to meet with for a long time and only having 15 minutes for a meeting. How do you turn that meeting into an hour or more, and then eventually into a friend?
Many folks just think that showing up is half the battle. Well, sort of. But there's more. When it comes to winning a client, or inking a new partnership, or developing a new friendship, there are some key things I've learned over the years that might be helpful.
A few thoughts:
1. Love people until they ask why. Let your actions speak so loud that people can not help but to see your authenticity, and ultimately demand an explanation for the reason you do what you do.
2. Prove your craft before asking for something. Excellence, skill and know how is key on this. Show that you are competent before you demand that they should partner with you.
3. Ask more questions than they do. I love this one. Many times asking great questions is way more strategic than giving great answers.
4. Spend lots of time listening. Once you've asked a great question, listen. And listen more. And listen more.
5. Find points of connection and shared interests, and be intentional. A crucial part of great bridge building. Find out what motivates someone, what their interests are, what they enjoy. Is it sports? rock climbing? history? Whatever it is, find out and then build on those areas of shared interests.
6. Connect them to others. Great connectors and bridge builders are always figuring out ways to introduce their friends within their circle. Claire at Twitter does this amazingly well. And here's the key on this- the ultimate value for the connection is not for you, it's more for others.
7. Follow up. This is the #1 step that everyone seems to forget. We have to follow up. Never assume that because you haven't heard from someone, it means they are not interested. They're busy, just like you. Take the first step and reach out. And then reach out again. And then again.