When I started the 30-Day Connection Challenge, I wanted to strengthen and deepen my in-person network. I’d grown my online connections to the point where I realized I was a bit out out of balance. But I’m an introvert and the idea of going to a networking mixer makes me queasy!
I loved the idea of having the opportunity to focus on creating connections for my particular situation.
When I stopped to let myself think about who I wanted a connection with, I realized I had more people in mind than I realized:
- I’d just attended Pam Slim’s Body of Work Live event in Phoenix and wanted to follow up with a few people.
- I had emails from people I’d met at a creative workshop.
- I wanted to know more about a local arts organization.
- People who I just thought were cool, but I never contacted for whatever reason (e.g. too busy, too intimidated).
What I found useful was Karl’s positive, gentle, but firm nudging throughout the month with weekly check-ins. Rather than create a Facebook group, I was able to focus on my own process of networking because Karl moderated emails and kept them to a minimum. While I loved hearing how other people were progressing with their particular connection situations at the end of each week, I appreciated not having to wade through a deep email thread which could have been distracting.
For me, letting myself go at my own pace is key–or I start rebelling! I ended up contacting a couple of people a week, usually via email or social networking. I knew doing it in a harsh, taskmaster-y way would not work for me!
Charming Connection System
I read Carolyn See’s “Making a Literary Life” many years ago. She writes about sending “a charming note” to someone in the literary world five times a week for the rest of your life! Doing the challenge made me remember that I do this as a matter of practice–I contact people because I truly feel gratitude to have met them, or run across their work and felt resonance with it. (Of course, not five days a week!)
“I love (resonated with) what you wrote…”
Call it a gratitude practice of sorts. With Karl adding in many creative ideas, the 30-Day Connection Challenge helped me figure out what was comfortable for my style while stretch a little too!
So what happened?
- I’m in conversation with more people than I was at the beginning of the month.
- I had a fun lunch with one of my connections.
- I joined a small private group on Facebook to keep in touch.
- All were meaningful and I didn’t feel “forced” to do it. I did it in a way which was in alignment with who I am. It flowed for me, surprisingly!
- And exercising the connection muscle truly does make it easier to connect more.
Lessons Learned in 30 Days of Connecting
First I had to connect with myself. Nothing happens if you don’t know why you’re doing it in the first place.
Infuse the process with meaning and heart: I naturally connect with people when I feel gratitude for the work, or feel compelled to acknowledge some good they are doing in the world. If someone from my past pops into my head, I reach out to reconnect, just because.
As much as I wanted to rebel against a structure, a light structure helped me focus and organize myself just enough to not drive myself crazy.
Having the momentum to connect feeds more connection. Momentum is best when you have some structure or system in place.
30 days go by very quickly!
I had a couple of people not respond at all. I thought I would be more devastated! But I didn’t feel rejected. I thought, “Hey, they might be busy right now. I’ll try them at another time.” Not sure if this is Karl Magic, or because I knew there were other people who I wanted to connect with, I did not to take it personally. I think that’s part of the challenge for so many of us. We fear rejection. But I discovered working with a list of people you would enjoy knowing, there are plenty of fascinating, kind people out in the world. People who are worth the effort and want connection too.
Have you tried your own 30 Day Connection yet? What type of connecting works well for you?
* Joy Agcongay is a gentle marketing mentor for overwhelmed entrepreneurs, who believes you do not have to change who you are to market your business. She is an introvert, retreat junkie, creative contemplative, wanderluster, gardener, cat herder and hen mother in California. Her online home is gentlemarketing.com.