Trading on Past Connections

Life is made up of moments. The highest highs, and those shared lows, that shape how we see the world. Snapshots of meaning. Experiences creating shared connections. Those moments have become the commodity of today’s personal and professional environment. We are trading today on existing meaningful relationships.

So, I am left wondering what will be the catalyst creating new relationships and partnerships of tomorrow’s new normal?

My career has been devoted to creating shared experiences that further business goals, that fuel organizational passion, and that make people feel. I am driven personally to make a positive impact in everything I encounter. And I have seen throughout quarantine that I am most fulfilled when connecting with the people who have meant the most to me personally and professionally.

I am still wondering, how will new relationships and partnerships be created going forward?

The changing landscape doesn’t prevent business from happening. Sure, players may change. The competition may become less diluted. But let’s be clear: the need for connecting, and feeling connected, is malleable.

My grandfather’s business deals were made on a hand shake, or written up as an agreement on a paper napkin. Recent history replaced the ease and trust of an agreement with long over-worded contracts and litigation fears.

When my parents were young life-long friendships were built on loyalty earned through hot summer nights under street lights. Now I watch my son forge virtual gaming relationships that eliminate geographical barriers.

And in the early stages of my career, supplier networks were built on loyalty and trusted network recommendations. Now the internet influences a price increment to guide the decision on who wins which bid.

And, how will relationships be forged going forward?

I believe the pendulum is swinging to re-introduce the bond within a relationship. A bond...that thing, or moment, or belief that aligns values and endures time or distance.

And I predict businesses will thrive as they focus on creating opportunities to bond. Community may not be manufactured, but maybe it can be influenced. Loyalty can not be demanded, but perhaps “shares of the heart” can be earned.

As we engage in more e- learning, and cyber meetings and virtual engagements, I believe taking the time to focus on emotional intelligence aspects of an exchange are vital to the health of the bond, and the depth of the relationship.

I believe the soft skills of communication will play a vital role in tomorrow’s corporate messaging styles. Where focus on active-listening, and facilitating meaningful conversation will be the forefront of a content manager’s thinking. And how meeting agendas will be structured around the important, not the busy. Where virtual engagements will be structured away from passive and lean toward interactive learning, peer sharing and group dynamics.

Sprouting new meaningful relationships is not as difficult as it may appear. For starters, businesses can elevate “bonding” to an “intended result” of a meeting agenda, rather than rely on the bi-product of an encounter to strengthen relationships.

So, intentional relationship building strategies are a thing?

If kids can go to a playground and make friends, then why can’t corporate America too? It’s time to change the expectation. Maybe the engineered playdate isn’t such a bad idea. Focusing on quality interaction in lieu of quantity encounters is strategic. Altering agendas to incorporate depth of communication is forward thinking. Choosing to train on soft skills may just be that competitive advantage businesses need.

Connection is not new. The need to connect and be connected is not new. How we adapt to a changing environment will make the difference for many.

RACHEL Y. NIELSEN is the president of Advanced Events, Inc. and a member of the Enterprising Women Advisory Board. Contact her at 708-528-0600 or email:

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