Commit to Getting Connected

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How Our Attitude Determines Our Ability to Get Through Challenge

Before I moved to New York City from Texas six years ago, I went to see a therapist. My goal was validation I was making the right (HUGE!) move by uprooting myself after a lengthy marriage and divorce. And it also wouldn’t have been wrong to say I wanted the secret sauce of how to survive in a brand-new place where I knew almost no one.

Rather than giving me the solutions, my therapist made me find my own answers. How? By doing the very thing therapists are trained to do. He asked me three insightful questions:

QUESTION #1:  What scares you the most about this move?

This one was easy. In its simplest form, the answer was that I feared not knowing who to turn to for whatever I needed. The list was lengthy: I needed resources for where to shop, good health care, professional and personal support, getting to know the customs in my new home state, figuring out New York’s transportation system, keeping myself safe…and on, and on, and on.

 QUESTION #2: What excites you most about this move?

 This one was almost as easy. I was energized about the possibilities of a brand-new life. That too encompassed an enormous category: new job, new work colleagues, new place to live, new experiences, new friends, new routines, and new forms of entertainment. In short, absolutely nothing was going to be familiar.

QUESTION #3:  What, if anything, would keep you from having what you want?

 This third question cracked open all my vulnerabilities. What immediately rushed to mind were “I don’t know if I can” thoughts. I don’t know if I can…learn anything new … compete …keep up …visualize…make life happen on my new terms.

“Thanks for being honest,” my therapist said. “I don’t hear you saying you can’t do any of these things. I only hear you say that you are afraid you might not be able to. I don’t hear any facts. I only hear fear talking. If you let it have the floor, it creates self-doubt. And self-doubt can cause you not to succeed. If you can master decoupling your trepidation from your day-to-day life, you can begin to see each day as an adventure. And that’s when anything becomes possible.”

My therapist concluded with a statement that has become my mantra: “Open yourself to the universe and it will give you want you need.”

Three Sure Fire Ways to Build Community

So here I was: a newly minted Texan turned New Yorker and I needed to build community FAST. These are the three ways I went about it. I hope they are helpful to you!

  1. Ask a friend for a friend.

As soon as I decided to move cross-country to New York, I made a list of everyone I knew who might have New York connections. I cast a broad net. After spending about a week creating my list, I then asked friends who they knew in New York. Those names went on the list – and now I had over a hundred possible new connections.

  1. Find the right referral.

From those 100 names, I prioritized the top thirty. These were people I believed might be predisposed to offer advice, encouragement, or practical tips. I then decided whether I could make my own introduction or would want someone else to introduce me. Because my goal was to make a connection, I always deferred to someone else if I wasn’t 100% sure I would be successful. Introductions were usually made through email or on Linked In.

 Follow up quickly with a call to action.

Whether a friend introduced me or I made the initial contact, I took follow-up seriously. Within 24 hours of the first email conversation, I answered and asked for a brief phone call. Almost always, the new connection said yes. Once we had the call, I knew whether it made sense to meet in person. I always tried to get a meeting date on the calendar, even if it was a few weeks away.

Fast forward to now, I am still in touch with many people I met when I first moved to New York. A number of those connections have blossomed into close friendships. And more have linked me to other people I have loved getting to know.

Use this easy formula to help you get connected to people you want to know. Being a connector is a two-way street which will reap rich rewards. Tell me about your experiences at


  • Ann Louden

    A seasoned executive in the nonprofit world, Ann Louden is the founder and CEO of Ann Louden Strategy and Consulting. Recognized for her expertise in fund raising, high profile special events, and campaign planning, Ann provides counsel to chief executives, staff, and volunteer leadership. Ann’s primary interest areas are education, health care for women and children, the arts, and adoption. As a cancer survivor, she led and was the twelve-year spokesperson for a breast cancer advocacy initiative that engaged thousands of survivors, volunteers and medical providers. With a mantra of bringing big ideas to life, Ann focuses on identifying a compelling vision and creating a goals-oriented plan for execution. An in-demand national speaker for the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, Ann is the recipient of the Steuben Excellence in Teaching Award and has been named as a CASE Laureate. She is the author of the upcoming book: From Social Courage to Connection: Lessons from Leaders Who Change and Save Lives. You can find her at

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