One of the books that I really enjoyed reading this past year was “Toy Box Leadership: Leadership Lessons from the Toys You Loved as a Child” by Ron Hunter Jr. & Michael E. Waddell. As I was looking for some reading on connecting and building networks/relationships, I realized that there was a whole chapter on this topic in this book. “Chapter One, Lego Bricks: Relationships~Building Begins with Connecting”.
Since this book is about leadership in business, the main theme of the chapter is about connecting to become a better leader. “Leaders understand the complexity of relationships, and they work to positively develop them.” They talk about how Lego bricks stacked together form a much stronger union (Yes, I saw Lincoln over the break and it was fantastic). Mentioned as well is the need for a strong foundation and how connecting with others brings about synergy.
My favorite paragraph in the chapter talks about how the best connections don’t happen by accident:
“Pouring out a box of Lego bricks will not produce a castle; you will just have a pile of bricks. Similarly, relationships at their best are designed, intentional, connected and built.”
I loved the imagery of the single lego and how it’s pretty much useless on its own.
We need to be mindful of the walls and bridges we are creating and maintaining in our lives and of course, starting a new year is a great time to start thinking about this.
My wall grew by leaps and bounds after attending the Women’s Leadership Institute. I gained about 20-25 new contacts. After I read this chapter again recently, I could actually visualize how much taller my wall had gotten, and how I wanted to strengthen it over the course of the year.
Much like improvements to a student union, these things take time and money perhaps – but they also need a plan of attack to make sure you are accomplishing your goals and that you’ll see improvement over time. Consider taking the time to plan out your building process. What will you do this year to strengthen your wall or bridge or whatever it is you visualize? (I’ve been obsessed with “Pillars of the Earth” recently. Maybe I’m building a cathedral.
So for your planning, I found a great article called “4 Sure Fire Steps to Connecting with People” which includes those four steps (Listening, Observing, Discerning, and Speaking) but also mentions four common disconnects as well (Spectating, Critiquing, Deciding and Interrupting). Make sure to check it out.
If you have been thinking about building your network, connecting with those you haven’t in the past, etc. I’d love to hear your plans, any stories you have – and what you’re building!