People can spend their entire career trying to answer the question “Why?” across a wide range of topics: Why do we work so hard? Why are people mean? Why am I being held back from being successful?
I don’t know on the psychological level why we ask why, but for me it is simple. I started generating revenue and needed to figure out the fastest way that would work with my personality. That led me to connecting. Connecting represents a shorter distance between two points, and I wanted to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible. I knew that I could do things the hard way or the easy way. I figured the more people I knew and who knew me, the better I would be able to meet my goals. I never really dug that deep in my heart because where I ended up seemed like a good place, and those around me view me as a helper.
Power of Connection
A recent example of this was my experience in refinancing my house a few years back. I was shopping online one Saturday and saw that I could take my mortgage rate from 4.25% to 3% and the term from 30 years to 15 years and keep my payments roughly the same (oh, the good old days!). I was approved in about 15 minutes, but the process of underwriting the new loan was a nightmare. Request after request came in with the underwriter asking me for just a little bit more information. Interaction with an online website asking me for more and more information was making me crazy, mostly because it took a lot of time; and partly because I was in the business of building customer applications like this portal to “make things easier for the client.” Whoa! I almost quit the process three times telling myself that the savings I would receive was not worth the time and aggravation.
After three months and as the third “closing” got delayed, I had had enough. I got on the company’s website and found the top three executives. I figured out their email addresses and I sent them all a nice, but firm note about how challenging this process was, and that I was hoping somebody at the executive level would call me. Since I have served on many boards and run a few businesses, I have seen many nasty emails where people vent and then fire off a missile. I thought, “Even though I’m frustrated, if this was my business, I’d want to know.”
The next morning, I got a call from the chief operating officer. She was very open to listening and asked several questions regarding how they might improve their services. Because of my background in consulting, I threw out a few ideas. Then we started talking in general about my overall client experience, and I told her about a consulting firm that I had used at my current company. I thought the company was very good and might be able to help them take a quick look at their issue. I told her our challenge and how they had helped us. She asked me if I would make an introduction and also if I would talk to her product manager to provide some context and feedback about my experience with the online portal. I made an introduction with someone at the other company I had recommended, and I scheduled time to talk with the product manager a few days later. She was very appreciative and was also able to review my loan and determine why I had slipped through the cracks. By the time I got home from a three-day business trip, I had the closing scheduled, but more importantly, I had helped some people who really cared about their company and the service they provided. I don’t know if I will ever hear from the company again, or whether it will ever lead to a dime of income but it doesn’t matter. I was a customer with expertise in an area they needed, and the chief operating officer of the company was willing to listen and take action. I had a great week of travel and customer meetings, but this was the most rewarding thing I had accomplished the entire week. And this is how connecting works. Give yourself away and you will make great friends and will learn that the laws of reciprocity are universal across the world.