The Softer Side: Why Making Personal Connections is Important for your Business and Career

In its 2016 The Future of Jobs report, the World Economic Forum predicts that by 2020 many adults will be employed in jobs that do not exist today. Changes in technology, emerging markets, shifting demographics, and other disruptions will create a wholly new employment landscape. In particular, forecasters predict a shift in sought-after job skills from technical expertise to interpersonal, soft skills. In the years to come, employers will continue to seek out team members skilled at communication, collaboration, and persuasion.

You may have already noticed this shift taking place in your industry. From sales to engineering, new generations of employees and their employers are placing an emphasis on emotional intelligence, relationship building, and teamwork.

A step ahead: The importance of personal connections to your business.

Technology has opened up new economic avenues all over the globe. When choosing a product or partner, businesses and consumers can select from a worldwide array of organizations. Being selected in this competitive market requires more than just presenting a valuable product or service. As Mark Bonchek and Cara France explain in this Harvard Business Review article, to remain competitive, businesses must create a mutually beneficial relationship between their organization and its customers.

An important part of developing any relationship is creating trust between both parties. In her article, The Science of When You Need In-Person Communication, Laura Vanderkam shares that personal interaction is one of the best ways to build trust between individuals and enthusiasm for shared projects. The ability to shake hands, see verbal expressions, and detect other non-verbal cues all help to foster a stronger, more trusting relationship.  

Beyond business: How personal connections benefit you.

Of course, the traditional reasons for building relationships continue to be important. Despite new technologies that allow us to participate in cyber conferences and webinars, networking and in-person conferences aren’t going anywhere. Thought leadership and influence still depend on building personal relationships.  Making more connections means gaining more advocates and extending your reach.

But, let’s dig a little deeper. Beyond building your business and your personal brand, how can learning to form and nurture these types of connections benefit you?

It may seem obvious, but one of the greatest benefits of making personal connections is friendship. Working and pursuing your career can be lonely. One of the best benefits of taking the time to connect with other professionals is that they understand your journey. When you are facing challenges or frustrations, a trusted friend can prove invaluable. The best time to find a true friend is before you need one.

Another thing I value about connecting with others is knowledge discovery. We can’t all be experts in all things. Nor does any one person have the time to track down every interesting idea. When you spend time connecting with others, you have the opportunity to gain from their knowledge and share your own. Working as a team often leads to discoveries that a single person alone might not ever find. Collaborating with my friends energizes and inspires me.

Finally, opening yourself to forming new relationships also opens the door to serendipity. None of us can predict the future. Sometimes life just happens, and if you aren’t participating you’ll miss out. A chance encounter might become the foundation for a great business venture or a new career. You never know who you’re going to meet until you’ve met them.
For these and many other reasons, everyone can benefit from developing their softer side and learning to form real and lasting relationship connections. In the following articles, I’ll share how you can find, make, and sustain great connections. So, please, keep reading as we explore making connections together.  

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