Number two of the seven secrets we indulged in the first post on how to live the good life was this:
We connect people when it seems like a good fit, and several of our friends and contacts meet our other friends and contacts and go on to do great things together. We encourage people to connect us to their friends and contacts the same way.
I could write a book just on the connections we’ve made among our smart, interesting, and creative friends and acquaintances. And you know what? Zig left off a very important point in his famous quote. Not only will connecting people to help their dreams come true eventually help you with yours, but you will love the hell out of it just because of the “residual glitter” that falls from the sky after you make a spark between two people. It is magic for them, and it is equally magic for you the connector.
It takes a bit of effort to become a “connection-minded” person if it doesn’t come naturally, but anyone can build this skill by creating the following habits:
When meeting someone new, ask good questions.
Learn more about them, and then think about who you know who would benefit from knowing them. Maybe someone you already know shares a similar hobby or career, or someone else can help them or be helped by them. Sometimes you just know two people would hit it off as friends, and that might be the best of all.
When we arrived in Ecuador at the start of our trip, we quickly made friends with Catherine and Fernando. Neither of them is from the area we were all in, but both have big hearts and get to know and help everyone around them. When they told us about the struggling clinic nearby that had empty shelves and no money to buy much-needed medicine for their poor patients, we took an interest. Along with Catherine and Fernando, we recruited all of you to help us buy drugs for the clinic pharmacy: antibiotics, anti-diarrheal medications, vitamins, birth control and basic painkillers. The clinic’s volunteer doctor has been donating her time there for 15 years, and we loved being able to help her provide better care to her patients.
If Catherine and Fernando didn’t ask questions in their new town they wouldn’t have known about the struggling clinic, and if we hadn’t bothered to get to know them we wouldn’t have, either. We also wouldn’t have known we could do something like this with you guys online if we didn’t bother to ask (it would have been really easy just to give a few bucks ourselves and forget about it). How cool is that?
Practice connecting people with information.
If you know a friend loves Asian food, be sure to let her know when you find a great new restaurant, recipe, or grocery store. If you read an article or book that reminds you of someone you know, send them an email and tell them about it. When you learn anything new, think of who you know that might also appreciate that information.
A great example just happened recently. When I mentioned to frequent commenter Rob Philip that I was trying to quit the caffeine, he remembered and sent me an article a week or so later about how to do it more effectively. He has sent me info on other topics in the past based on our email and comment exchanges, and you can bet I will think of him when I learn new things about his interests as well.
Use social media to let people self-select great information and opportunities.
On Twitter recently I saw a tweet from a friend back in Seattle:
“My friend loved her #2 hire choice and wants him to land somewhere great – is your company hiring?”
Sometimes a specific connection doesn’t pop up in your mind when you get some great info, or you know many people who could benefit, so the best bet is to put it out to your network. Don’t be stingy with what you know. When you share your good information freely, people begin to look to you as a center spoke in their network. And once people know you have people listening, they will swarm to you with opportunities in need of great people.
Learn to share your own opportunities.
Sometimes sharing your good fortune is better than using it yourself. We recently wrote a post about house sitting and mentioned our favorite service. The post got a lot of attention, and Trusted Housesitters took notice. Behind the scenes we were offered a deal that would allow us to save money on our own membership there in exchange for the number of people we sent over from the post. (This kind of offer is common for popular blogs.) Instead, Warren asked the service if we could use that bonus to benefit our readers directly, negotiating a 25% discount for new house sitter members and a free 6-month membership for new homeowner members.
Sure, we could have benefited by saving money on an already reasonable membership fee, but the goodwill and attention we have garnered from sharing the wealth of this opportunity will pay off much bigger dividends in connections, house sitting opportunities, and a stronger relationship with our readers. And don’t think for a second the owner of that service will soon forget how we helped her promote a service we really believe in. Don’t save yourself $10 at the risk of missing an opportunity to develop a deeper connection with the people in your life.
Become the center spoke of a very big wheel.
If you start practicing the first four steps, it won’t take long for you to become known as a broker, someone who can connect people with the right information and people to get what they need. This in turn makes you more valuable, because people with great information and opportunities to share will come to you with that info because you are so connected. You can see how this circle keeps making your job as a connector easier and your life richer by the day.
Just last week we went to a public square to eat the sandwiches we bought from a deli. We spotted a vendor selling wine in this very popular area (lots of food stands to cater to the lunch crowd), and we decided to splurge and taste one of his wines. We began chatting as the lunch crowd filtered out, and over time we learned that he was a former attorney who decided after 15 years it wasn’t for him anymore. He has taken a lot of training since then and become a wine vendor who hosts tastings and other events all over the city. His wines were both delicious and affordable, and we loved hearing how he chased his dream.
You know what’s coming next, right? We only really know 2 couples in Brussels, and we immediately thought of how we could connect all of them. Frederic the wine merchant should know Jenn, who handles logistics and meetings for a very large government agency, and our homeowner Alison writes *the* food, wine and travel blog for expats in Belgium. They will definitely be getting an introduction to our new acquaintance Frederic. Who knows what will happen from there?
Pretty soon it happens without thinking
You may think that only knowing 4 people in this city would prevent us from making those kinds of connections, but you’ll see when you start practicing these tips that your interests and acquaintances usually share a few general traits or interests, and thinking creatively about how to connect them will bring about huge rewards for your network and for you.
And that, my friends, is another key component to living the good life.