How Widely Are You Connected?
When I was a child, I recall how exciting it was in our household to receive a long-distance call. I remember asking my mother what long distance meant. Her response: “Long distance is anywhere you can’t walk in a day!”
I wondered how we knew people that lived so far away. Back then, it was almost always family who weren’t local. When it wasn’t family calling, it was even more thrilling. Was it a movie star? The pope? Some exotic friend?
Of course, now our worlds are so much larger. We think nothing of calling, emailing, or messaging people around the world. Truer now than ever, the wider our friendship and family network, the faster the world shrinks in size.
As in childhood, I value connectedness – the more far flung, the better. I loved meeting people on summer vacation and sending them letters or postcards. And I was beside myself with joy when I heard back. The obligation of reciprocity in building relationships was not lost on me. I knew I had a part to play to gain entrée into a world much farther away than where I was growing up.
I learned then that the wider our network, the more likely we are to grasp the complexities of other cultures and customs, and to get a broader take on the meaning of history. From studying the stamps from other countries, to hearing accents, to eating the food, to meeting the people, the larger world was much more fascinating than my neighborhood.
Accessing this global experience is infinitely possible if we adopt a connector’s approach to relationships.
How To Invest in Long-Distance Connections
It’s definitely easier to keep in touch with people who live and work closest to you. Your daily routine makes it possible for you to cross paths regularly. The efforts you expend to stay in their lives, and you in theirs, is less than with those who are farther away.
But would you like to grow your world beyond your own backyard?
If so, answer three questions:
- How do you stay in touch with your current long-distance connections? Do you take responsibility for maintaining those relationships?
- When you visit a new place, are you willing to meet new people, in addition to seeing the sights?
- Will you invest in staying connected to new long-distance relationships?
Expand Your Attitude, Expand Your Reach
The first step in getting out of the box you’ve been raised in is having an attitude of adventure. You must be willing to care about the people in the places you want to go. Do you have an adventurer’s spirit, not just for the destination, but also for its residents?
The second step is making a list of where you would like to go if you could. Where in the world do you want to visit? Live? Even if you can’t travel in person, you can connect virtually.
The third step is taking action to meet people you want to connect with. Making this move can create the fear of rejection. And yet taking a bold initiative is where the rewards truly are.
Here’s an example: just recently I read an article in the Wall Street Journal about a woman who has a similar background to mine. I was interested in a point of view she shared. So, I sent her a message on Linked In. I figured nothing ventured, nothing gained.
It took several weeks, but she answered me. We arranged a zoom call and had so much fun that we plan to visit regularly. What a wonderfully rewarding new connection!
I hope you feel the urge to broaden your world through beginning and investing in long distance relationships. Global connections will enrich you in ways you can’t begin to predict.
So, start now! Share your plans with me at Ann@AnnLouden.com.
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 www.AnnLouden.com.