5 Secrets To Help You Connect With Others & Network

Photo: getty
woman networking on her phone

Are your connections increasing your potential? The network you build with others can be a powerful tool in determining your future, both personally and professionally.

But in today’s digital landscape, creating meaningful relationships can be a challenge.

So, how do you connect with people?

Jake Kelfer is a master at helping others connect. He’s a speaker, executive coach, and best-selling author of two books, including Elevate Your Network.

He teaches others that when you focus on what you have to offer others and lean into networking, extraordinary things can happen.

RELATED: This Kind Of Networking Will Take Your Career Further Than You Can Imagine

Learning how to connect with people is integral to success. 

How did he get here? A pivotal moment at his first job out of college put him on the path to helping others succeed through relationships.

From a young age, Jake had one dream — to play for the L.A. Lakers. And he worked hard at it.

But at 5’8”, he knew his chances weren’t good. By the time he got to college, he decided in order to make it on the court, he needed a different plan.

Jake had an energy and enthusiasm for connecting with others he decided was his secret to success. So, he took a job with the team as corporate partnerships assistant.

He wasn’t playing in the game, but he was on the court managing halftime events. It was his dream job.

One evening, Jake was on an elevator going to the event level of the arena to assist with events on the court. That’s when former NBA star Jerry West walked in.

In the basketball world, Jerry is a legend. In fact, he’s the silhouette on the NBA logo!

The security attendant in the elevator didn’t recognize him and asked for credentials. When Jerry couldn’t produce any, the attendant asked him to get off while he took Jake, who was wearing credentials, down to the court.

That’s when Jake made a quick decision. He told the attendant they were together and it was OK to let him on.

When they made it down, Jerry turned to Jake, shook his hand, and said, “Thank you, I appreciate what you just did for me.”

In that moment, everything changed for Jake. He realized it doesn’t matter how rich you are, how smart you are, how successful you are. In the end, we’re all people — and all we want is to feel loved, valued, that we belong.

Jerry West made Jake feel like a million dollars.

That pivotal moment put him on a path to find a way to give others that same feeling. He wanted to share the secrets he’d learned to help people connect and find success.

Here are 5 secrets to help you connect with others and learn how to network.

1. Make others feel important.

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” — Maya Angelou

Jake uses this quote as a reminder to make others feel important.

Think about your own actions. Have you ever said something you wish you could take back? Is there something you’ve done that you wish you hadn’t?

Of course, we all have!

Now, think back to a moment as Jake had with Jerry West, when someone made you feel special. Chances are you remember it vividly.

The fact is, you remember when someone makes you feel important. You also remember when they don’t.

Make a commitment to lifting others up in every interaction.

RELATED: How To Network With Comfort & Confidence ─ When You’re An Introvert

2. Discover how you can help others.

Jake was one year out of college when he wrote his first book. Despite his youth, he knew he could help other students with career development.

He combined his own experience with the knowledge of people that had more credibility than he did, people in his network he had learned from. Jake didn’t know exactly what he was doing, but he went for it anyway!

You may think you don’t have the skill set to help others. You haven’t started your own business or lost the weight, found your soulmate or landed the big promotion. That’s OK!

Be who you want to be, not who you think others want you to be. Shift your focus from serving yourself to serving others, and your actions will line up with your identity.

You’ll quickly discover how you, too, can help others.

3. Use your authentic voice.

It’s also important to find your voice. This can be confusing when you find inspiration in other voices.

That’s actually OK! Take what you hear from the voices you look up to and make it your own, unique only to you — this is your authentic voice.

It doesn’t matter if you’re connecting with the right people. It’s that you take your authentic voice and share it the best way you can.

When you combine empathy for others with the ability to believe in your voice, you’ll communicate with your authentic self.

4. Be intentional in your decision-making.

Everything you do in life revolves around people. You can’t run a business without another person, be it a colleague or customer. You can’t have a romantic relationship without another person.

Relationships are imperative to life — and success. But how do you build the right relationships to get the results you want?

The networks you create encircle you as a person. A great network gives you the freedom to explore new opportunities.

So, be intentional with who you connect with and why. Explore your most meaningful relationships.

What makes them so? And how do you contribute to those relationships?

In the business world, the easiest customer is the one you already have. That’s because if you treat them right, they’ll tell their own networks about you.

This is called the "triple win" — a win for you, a win for your customer, and a win for the people impacted by the interaction.

Connecting with intention can have a positive impact on every relationship in your life.

5. Be mindful of your online communication.

Let’s face it, these days it seems increasingly easy to say the wrong thing online. One of the reasons for this is because it’s easier to make the mistake of meeting people where you want them to be, not where they’re actually at.

For this reason, digital communication has some extra tips in order to be successful...

Start on their turf: Think about where your contact responds best. Maybe it’s email or Facebook. Or it could be LinkedIn. Use the platform they prefer.

Turn it up: There’s nothing like face-to-face interaction to truly connect. So when it comes to online interactions, your energy may need to be elevated from an in-person meetup.

Pay attention: On virtual meetings, watch the facial expressions and voice inflections of the other participants. Small cues may tell you how you’re making them feel. This will allow you to ensure you’re using your authentic voice in every meeting.

Pay a compliment: Regardless of the relationship dynamic, a compliment can ensure others that you’re coming from a place of equality. This helps them feel worthy of connection and make the relationship stronger.

There's no shortcut to success, but there is one shortcut in life: Start now.

Your future is up to you to create. Start learning how to connect with people to creating meaningful connections today!

RELATED: This App Is Like Tinder, But For Your Career Instead Of Hookups

Hilary DeCesare is the Founder and CEO of The ReLaunch Co. She’s appeared on ABC’s The Secret Millionaire and on major news outlets such as CBS, ABC, Fox, Huffington Post, and Yahoo, and offers several ReLaunch courses and coaching. To connect with her directly or for media requests please email her!

This article was originally published at The ReLaunch Co. Reprinted with permission from the author.