Spearity CEO and business coach Darren Fisher recently shared about the importance of connection for leaders and business owners. When we connect with others, it strengthens us as individuals and allows us to pour into other people. But it’s easy to struggle in this area, which is why many leaders end up feeling like it’s “lonely at the top.”
If you do a quick search online, you’ll find many studies showing the majority of leaders struggle with loneliness. So, how can we do a better job of networking with others and connecting when we’re in positions of leadership?
Developing emotional intelligence helps us connect with others
High emotional intelligence allows you to better understand and empathize with others. When you understand where people are coming from, it allows you to make wiser decisions because you consider how your actions impact others. It also helps you build stronger and more effective relationships with employees, peers, and those outside of your organization.
Here are a few quick tips to build emotional intelligence:
- Practice mindfulness – Be aware of your thoughts and feelings. Exercises like deep breathing can help you connect more with your own emotions, which will help you begin to recognize emotions in others.
- Journal your emotions – Reflect on how you felt during different events throughout your day. Taking a few minutes to do this can help you build self-awareness.
- Practice empathy – Put yourself in the shoes of those you’re interacting with. How would you feel if you were experiencing the situation from their position?
- Actively listen to feedback – Listen to feedback from trusted mentors, business coaches, colleagues, and employees. Seek constructive criticism and use it to grow.
- Learn to manage stress effectively – Find activities that help reduce your stress, like exercise and hobbies.
Be authentic and vulnerable
Authentic leaders aren’t afraid to be vulnerable with others. Sharing your challenges, mistakes, and learning experiences helps others relate to you. This builds trust and encourages others to open us as well.
It’s tempting to want to twist things to sound a little better than you are or like you know a little more than you do, but fight the urge. Be humble and modest. It’s more enjoyable to interact with people like this than those who are always trying to come across like they always get things right.
Take a genuine interest in others
Take time to get to know people, including peers and employees, on a more personal level. Learn about them and actively listen to what they have to say. Be fully engaged in conversations to show you respect the other person. Follow up with them on things that they share with you.
It’s easy when you have a busy schedule to stick to surface-level conversations with people and not really engage in conversations. Take time to put your phone away, remove distractions, and listen to others. You cannot truly connect with another person if you don’t take the time to learn about them.
Be intentional about building connections
There’s a big difference between going to a networking event and sitting on the sidelines vs showing up and intentionally connecting with others.
One professional that I know makes it a goal to connect with three people at any networking event that he attends. His goal isn’t to walk out with 20 new names, business cards, or LinkedIn connections. Instead, the goal is to engage in meaningful conversation with a few people so he can learn about them, how he can help them accomplish their goals, or who he can connect them with to help them to grow their business. Then, he follows up with them after the event.
Begin to think about how you can be more intentional in your interactions with others.
Put yourself in situations to connect
It’s hard to connect if you’re sitting at your desk all day and don’t make time to meet and engage with others. Look for networking opportunities, training events, and other business or industry events where you can begin to connect with others. SPEARity has group coaching and multiple events throughout the year, providing leaders with a chance to connect with others. Contact us today to explore the best options for you.