Leadership Lesson Leadership is about Connecting with People of Influence

Leadership Lesson 9: Connections

Today I am in St. Thomas studying leadership lessons with OCU alumnus and #1 leadership expert Dr. John Maxwell.  As I listened, it dawned on me that one of the secrets to success in my own leadership is the arena of connecting. In fact, the main reason I attend these sessions is for networking and making connections. I tend to think practically about life, so here are some simple tips for connecting:

In order to move your life or organization forward you must connect to persons outside your own life and or organization.

At Ohio Christian University when first arriving, I knew that I must connect with many groups of people to move the university forward.  I did not know five people who could assist with moving toward the vision I sensed that God was giving me.  I begin to position myself in places of connection.  One person I did know was John Maxwell so I talked to him, and he invited me to play golf at Pebble Beach.  After the invitation, I found out it would cost $3000 dollars to attend the event. Even though we could not make payroll that week at OCU, I took the risk in order to connect—I had to make connections.
At the event, which included John's top 100 donors, John asked to have breakfast with me and said, "Mark, I am going to allow you to be at the events, talk to my people, and get connections. He also said to me, “Now understand when you get in this circle, that large donors give to multiple causes so some will support you, but I also expect the same from you as you find donors.” These connections have so expanded my vision, and brought so many resources to our organization. I have sent John connections as well.

In order to connect in life you must purposefully plan who, where and what you want to learn and then connect.

One of the keys to life is to connect with influencers.  Who are the connectors you need to know to move your church or organization forward?  Write down five names today, and connect with them within one month.  Each of my Vice Presidents is regularly challenged to have a mentor. My mentors have included President Gordon Gee, Dr. John Maxwell, governor candidate Ken Blackwell, Dr. Jim Barnes, Rev. Mac McCrary, etc. All of these folks have taught me or added connection in my life. I attend conferences, go where leaders are, make calls, and show up at events or their office to ensure that I will be connected.  I am with 90 leaders today, and they will change my life as much as anything Dr. Maxwell says because of their gifts,  talents, and resources. What are you doing to connect?

Never forget that connectors are only successful if they share their connections. 

After the Pebble Beach experience, I knew I had been introduced to another level of connections.  Value added is always in direct proportion to the value you add and share.  Don't forget to share connections! This is not a secret exam; it is an explosion of momentum for the sake of the Kingdom.

Connections lead to influence, which allows these networks to accomplish major initiatives with you. Life is about connections – I call them God connections. Are you investing in connections? I could tell of many other connections who have spurred major results at OCU.  Leadership is about connections.

Connect and change the world. Love you all!