I am a connector…of people, of places, of skills, of needs. My brain and being happen to function in a place to seeing connections where someone or something might be beneficial for another. It is not particularly a skill that I cultivate – it is just part of who I am.
Landing in a new place without my network had me somewhat concerned that that part of me may end. I did not know of a great local for coffee, or the best place to get pastries, or a terrific country drive with lunch at a romantic spot just an hour outside of the city. I did not know someone who could redo your garden into an idyllic oasis, or a great plumber, or a guy who could fix the pointing on your chimney. It was all new to me – an exploration as I discovered new things for myself.
It occurred to me the other day that suddenly – a few people were coming to me for answers to pressing questions. And surprisingly – I made the connections. And I was thrilled. I am feeling more and more back in my own skin. No longer an outsider trying to figure things out.
When I looked at how I arrived at this place – I finally recognised some behaviours that helped me along the way which I thought I would share.
- I scan my surroundings.
- In grocery stores, along streets I walk, in shops I walk into randomly. I look around, check things out and make mental notes of what I saw. For some reason, my brain registers weird stuff that “might” come in handy. Sometimes I make notes, sometimes I chat with shop owners, sometimes I take business cards.
- I talk to people
- I am always amazed at how many people have such unique skill sets. Not only do I listen to what they say they do or did – I also listen for what they need (though they may no be overt about it). I mentally file away bits of info – then when someone needs someone I can usually access that odd bit of info and make a connection.
- I am open about my experiences
- I find the more open I am – the more I hear about the experience of others. From this I can glean what worked for them and create a synergy that allows me to adjust and improve my experience to relay to others when they have a need.
- One caveat however, I have also been stung by this. Some have misinterpreted my enthusiasm or experience in a way that may create negativity or a perception of my criticism. I have found it is necessary to be mindful of how your experience lands for others. Having said that – I can only control how others want to perceive me just so much!
- Be ok if your connection does not work for others
- As an extension of the above – everyone uses connections in different ways. And their interaction with others or experiences will be coloured by who they are. It may not turn out as well for them as it did for me.
- Generosity is key
- I may be thanked for my help or not. That is not why I do it. Being a connector makes me feel good and lifts my spirit. It is how I can give of my skill and talent in a way that feels right for me.
All the above to say that as an expat – things will be new and strange and different. But with a bit of time and awareness, one can be comfortable and local in no time! But it is up to you to make the connection!