The Importance of Connections

dreamstime_xs_62253992At the WAND conference I spoke on Self-Empowerment for Dietitians.  One aspect of my presentation was on the importance of networking and making professional connections, both internal and external.  This applies to all professions.

Although networking is necessary, we need to do more than simply give out business cards.  We need to connect with the people we are meeting.  People like to do business with people they know, like, and respect.  This article focuses on the why and where of making connections with people so that they know at least a little bit about us and we know a little bit about them.  And, of course, these need to be positive connections.

It is necessary to make internal connections if we are to succeed and advance within our company.  If people do not know who we are, what we do, or how good we are at what we do, we won’t be considered for promotions and advancement.  Of course, we need a connection with our supervisor.  We also need connections with our supervisor’s supervisors.  We need connections with our co-workers.  We need connections with people in other departments.  We might also be in the situation where we need connections with the company’s customers and suppliers.

A goal is that if anyone at your company were to ask, “Who would be good at/for….” someone in the room would think of you and offer your name for consideration.

We also need to make external connections, connections outside of our company.  One example is professional connections.  A great way to do this is to become involved in local, state, and/or national associations related to our profession.  Many of us have more than one profession.  For example, professional associations that have reflected my career over the years include dietetics and nutrition, healthcare foodservice, speaking, and writing.

The more people that you have a connection with in associations that reflect your profession or professions, the more likely that your name will come up when there are opportunities outside of your company.

Another consideration for many is to go to where your customers, your potential customers, and people who know your potential customers are and make connections.  This might be outside of your profession.  It can be advantageous to join professional associations that are not directly related to your profession.  Who are your customers?  What associations do they belong to?  Can you join?  If your customers are primarily women, are there women’s associations or groups that you could join?

The old saying, “It’s not what you know but who you know that counts” has some truth in it.  The good news is that you have control over who you know, who you have a connection with.  Take the initiative and make the internal and external connections you need to succeed.

Don’t be a Princess

dreamstime_xs_57704287, resizedI really dislike all the princess “stuff” that surrounds us.  Maybe it is just me and the way I interpret things.  To me, a “princess” is someone without power, someone who is dependent upon others, someone who waits around to be rescued.  Ugh!

I think what we should work toward is to be a queen (or empress, monarch, tsarina, whatever term you like) and rule our life.

We have power over our life, we have control over our life, so long as we accept that we are responsible for ourselves and our life.  No one can take our power away from us, but we can give it away.  And too often we do.

Which do you want to be?  A princess or a queen?  How do you live your life, as a princess or a queen?  And what do you promote with your daughters, granddaughters, nieces and other girls in your life?

You Are the Master of Every Situation

You Are the Master of Every Situation (Video Link)

I found this in a fortune cookie, “You are the master of every situation.”

This is true. We may not be able to control everything that happens to us in our professional and personal lives, but we control how we respond. Because we control what we do in every situation, we are the master of every situation.

Be Sensitive, but…

hBe Sensitive, but… (Video)

I found this in a fortune cookie:  “Be sensitive, but not overly sensitive.”

I think this is good advice.  We do want to be sensitive enough that we are at least aware of how what we do affects others.  This improves not only our personal relationships but our professional relationships as well.

We do not want to be so sensitive, however, that every little word and deed from others negatively affects us.  This gives others a great deal of control and power over us.  We need to be in control of our lives, and how we feel, not others.

Have you found the balance of being sensitive, but not overly sensitive?

Battling Boxes

hBattling Boxes (Video)

Do you have trouble with people wanting to put you in a box and label it with who they think you should be?  I do.  I always have.

I am one of those women who never wanted children.  I just did not.  I remember as a very small girl getting a baby doll from my grandma.  It was one of the first ones that you could feed a bottle of water to and in a little while it would “wet” its diaper.  I dressed it, fed it a bottle, pretended to feed it food, changed the diaper, changed the other clothes because they were wet, and put the doll to bed.  I remember thinking, “That was boring!”  And yet I could play with other toys for hours.

I hoped that my brothers would have children, because I thought being an aunt would be really cool.  (It is!)  I also thought being a grandma would be fun, as long as I did not have to go through the mother step first.  That worked, too, because it just happened that my husband had children that were almost grown when we married.  And being a grandma is fun.  And I am still glad I did not go through the mother step.

When we are very certain about what we want, or do not want, it is important that we stick to that even if family, friends, and society think that they know what is best for us.  (There are exceptions, of course.  We cannot harm others.  We cannot expect others to take responsibility for us; we are responsible for ourselves.)

If someone is trying to put you in a “box” that does not fit you, say something.  Do something.  Do not calmly enter the box and let others tape you in and label you.  It is your life.  It is your responsibility to decide who you are and live accordingly.

Do you Make Things Happen, or Do You Wait for Things to Happen?

Make Things Happen (Video)

People that make things happen know what they want, they develop a plan to make it happen, they implement the plan, and they regularly evaluate their results.  If they are achieving the results they want, great.  If not, they reevaluate their plan, revise it as necessary, and implement the new plan.  They continuously do this.  Because of this, they make things happen.  They get what they want.

People that make things happen go after life, they go after what they want.  They also take full and complete responsibility for their life.

Other people may go through the motions of developing and implementing plans, but mostly they are waiting for things to happen.  They are waiting for someone else to do things for them, provide for them, care for them.  They are waiting for that perfect job or relationship to simply appear.  They are waiting for life to come to them.

What type of person are you?  Do you make things happen?  Or do you wait for things to happen?

I am proud to say that I am someone that makes things happen.  If you are, too, great!  If you are not, I suggest that you decide to become someone who makes things happen.  Personal and professional life is much fuller and more satisfying when you make the life you want rather than waiting for it to magically appear.  Even at Hogwarts, magic did not just happen.  Someone had to make it happen; someone had to wave a wand, incant a spell, or stir a potion.

Take control of your life and make things happen!