Building connections can be the key to growing success. But building connections is not always as easy as the idea.
Two of us sat in the library. The extrovert in me cried out to engage the man at the other end of the table. He kept his head down and effortlessly made not eye contact with me. Instead, he read his book. No amount of wishing would get him to budge. I tried.
We sat there for what felt like hours to me, but I am sure was only a few minutes. Extroverts (at least this one) often struggle to not engage others even when all the body language yells that engagement is not an option. I was struggling, but I listened to his body language and kept to myself.
Before I broke anything holding back, some others trickled in around him. They made no effort to avoid disturbing him. He looked up at me and FINALLY we had the connection that had wanted. I smiled and he smiled. The extrovert in me relaxed.
Connections are not always easy, wanted or mutual. In that library that day, I met up with a man that had things he needed to do. Chatting with me, extrovert or not, was not on that list. He avoided what I considered a connection, but in that silence we made a different connection that was revealed only when chaos entered the space.
Connections are vital to my journey. I have to learn that not all of them will be exactly what I want or expect. It is important to read the situation and judge the actions for each one along the way.
Reading the signs in real life can be easy compared to dealing with them over the internet. The body language of that man in the library told me all that I needed to know. The internet does not offer that avenue of communication. The extrovert in me can take over – and it is not always a pretty result.
I met a person online – or should I say I made a connection with a person online. She emails me a few times. I emailed her a few times. I sent her an email one day, as one of many that day, to see if she would take a moment and vote for me in a contest I had entered. I was very excited about the possibilities that winning would present. I was very eager to get to that finish line. I knew it would take every connection that I had ever made.
She very quickly sent me an email in response. “I do not want to be a part of this list. I did not ask to be a part of this list. You have broken internet etiquette by sending me this email.”
I think I gasped when I read the email. I know my stomach turned. Telling a Southern Belle that she has broken etiquette causes all sorts of issues to emerge. I am certain I heard my grandmother roll over in her grave. The extrovert in me cowered to the side and the etiquette queen stepped forward to apologize . . . but had no idea how or why. I swayed between confusion, frustration, and aggravation.
She sent me notices. She sent me requests. She sent me things over the internet.
My skills for reading others fell short that day because I was unable to see her reactions, judge her responses or in any other way gauge the connection. Sometimes, that is just the way things are and I have to be okay with it.
Three Secrets to Connections
1. Ask – it is okay to ask people if they are willing to be a part of something. In person, a look can answer it all. Over the internet, a quick notice in an email can make the difference.
2. Limit – too much of anything is not a good thing. Too many requests, too many sales pitches, or simply just too many correspondences will drive a wedge in the best connection.
3. Listen – be aware of what you are receiving from others. Their tone will help you determine your own town when dealing with them in the future.
Mistakes will happen along the way to building connections, and that is okay. Even experience will not prepare the way for every moment or every person that will come along. Do all that you can do and accept that is all that you can do. Even my inner etiquette queen has to be okay with that.