By Sunny Simon

Last week I attended a workshop given by a dynamic comedy writer. To kick off the class she asked us to sit with people we did not know. Instructions were given for a three minute exercise. Groups were chartered with creating a list of things we all had in common. By the time the ending bell sounded my little band of new found friends were in the midst of building a rapport. My group began with a very basic commonality. None of us were native Californians. We branched out into marital status, as we all had spouses and eventually found we shared a love of Italian food. At the end of the three minutes a budding camaraderie evolved.

The purpose of the warm-up was to connect with others. Whether you are at a cocktail party, in an interview or attending a networking event, building a relationship begins by making a connection. If you spend time online and use social media properly it can also be a great place to connect with groups of people.

The size and strength of your network reflects the amount of effort you put into making an actual connection leading to a solid relationship. We all gravitate toward genuine individuals who take an interest in others by asking questions, giving undivided attention and engaging us with warm smiles and welcoming handshakes. On the flip side of the coin, we all have encountered friends and acquaintances who covet all the airtime during a meeting or use their Facebook posts to let you know it’s all about them.

Want to grow your connections into meaningful associations? Begin by simply acknowledging others beyond the perfunctory hellos and lackluster how are you doing questions. Listen with interest and stay in the moment by offering the other party your total focus. Relinquish your agenda. Every effort you make should not be to gain something in return. Make contact for the pure joy of getting to know someone.

Bring value to conversations by giving sincere compliments. Be sure to lavish encouragement on those who need an extra boost by offering up a kind word or displaying supportive action. Acknowledge any special events or milestones achieved by those in your network.

Want to know how you’re doing? Make a conscious effort to measure your connection activity this week. Tally up how many times you just went through the motions versus the amount of time you spent building relationships. Give yourself permission to be the kindest person you know. Generate warmth and generosity. I promise it will be your best week ever!

Sunny Simon is the owner of Raise the Bar High Life and Career Coaching. More about Sunny at