Thoughts on Leadership: Connecting and Networking for Success

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels find me in Orlando for the National Association of REALTORS® Conference & Expo, a yearly event that brings together real estate professionals from across the country … and the globe. Our HSF Affiliates brands will be proudly represented on the Expo floor—come say hello to our team at Booth No. 1565—as thousands of attendees connect, learn and ultimately build relationships that will help grow their businesses.

In this post, though, I want to focus on the value of connection because I firmly believe it lays the groundwork for all we do, is a major determinant of future success and in many ways, can define who we are. Without real connection we have next to nothing; no authenticity, no substance, no trust and no foundation upon which to build lasting relationships that will propel us forward.

The question often comes up: How do you best connect at large events like the NAR Conference & Expo, when the crowd can sometimes be overwhelming and the opportunities so vast? Here’s my answer (or my five answers), about how to foster meaningful connections at your next meeting—whether it’s at the upcoming NAR convention, an office networking event or holiday party:

  1. Be friendly, maintain eye contact and project a positive self-image. When you exhibit respect and confidence, everything else falls into place. You must create a positive first impression!
  2. Always smile! Smiling is free and helps you form an instant connection. While smiling sends a clear message about your positive state of mind, not smiling can be interpreted negatively as grumpiness, aloofness or anger.
  3. Remember the power of a good handshake. Someone is likely to make a judgment in the first five seconds of meeting you. What’s involved with that very short interaction? Usually, a handshake. No matter what designer suit you wear or how nice your watch is, if you have a bad handshake, your first impression will definitely take a hit. It may seem trivial but the handshake is a serious step to familiarity. Your personal space barrier is broken, if only for a moment, which requires trust on the part of both parties. Therefore, it is the first step to developing a relationship (good or bad based on the handshake, of course).
  4. Be interested instead of interesting. Dale Carnegie had it right—you must attract other when you are genuinely interested in them. Listen more, talk less. Ask questions and seek to understand. You’ll be amazed how everyone suddenly wants to be your friend.
  5. Be yourself. Talk real, act real, be real and you will find that others will do the same in return.

So, what’s the message? These ideas may seem like things you already know but that’s what makes them so easily forgotten. Famed English author Samuel Johnson once said, “People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed.” Remember: Whether your next networking event is the NAR Conference & Expo, a business meeting or a holiday party, focus on the power of connection and its ability to add value to your business and your life.

GINO BLEFARI is CEO of HSF Affiliates LLC. You can follow Gino on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

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