“Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.” – Jane Howard (1936-1996)

Jane Howard was an American journalist, writer and editor whose most well-known work was a biography of Margaret Mead. Her quote is as relevant today as when she wrote it in 1978. The only thing I would add is the word “connections.”

Without connections, we cannot thrive personally or professionally. This is the premise of my book, The Connector’s Way: A Story About Building Business One Relationship at a Time.  It is a business parable about a struggling entrepreneur who learns how to cultivate meaningful relationships in the real world and online and who uses this knowledge to achieve success.

I deliberately didn’t title my book “The Networker’s Way.” Why? Because even a mention of the word networking makes some people cringe with horror, bringing up visions of awkward meet-and-mingle events disguised as “social mixers.” Moreover, networking is often perceived as manipulative and transactional, something to do for one’s own personal gain or business benefit.

In contrast, connecting is about developing and cultivating long-term, meaningful relationships…and making introductions that help other people do the same.

The Secret Starts with You

Great connectors understand that their most important relationship is the one that they have with themselves. It’s simply not possible to go forth into the world and build a community of positive, like-minded people if you don’t feel good about yourself.

Think about the best connectors you know. What do they have in common? Whether they are introverted or extroverted, it’s likely that they share common traits, including: optimism, gratitude, integrity, focus, curiosity and persistence. It’s also likely that they make themselves a priority by eating healthy, exercising, getting enough sleep, and practicing some sort of mindfulness.

Great connectors know that when you nurture your body and mind to create positive energy and enthusiasm, you attract others.

This is an important lesson and one that Robert Hanson, the protagonist in The Connector’s Way, learns early on in his journey. It’s also one of my “Seven Rules for Building Business One Relationship at a Time.” Over the course of several weeks, I will illustrate these rules with lessons from the book as well as relevant and practical tips to help you and your business create the connections that lead to success.

Take Back Your Time

Whether it’s establishing a new workout routine, planning a healthy meal, or taking a few minutes each day to turn off your mind and simply focus on nothing, you’ll find that by making yourself a priority you become a priority for other people, too.

And while it’s true that making a commitment to your own well-being takes time, consider this: Facebook says that the average user spends 50 minutes a day on its Facebook, Instagram and Messenger platforms. With the exception of watching television (2.8 hours per day), that’s more time than any other non-work activity tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It’s almost as much time as people spend eating and drinking (1 hour), and more time than people spend reading (19 minutes), exercising or playing sports (17 minutes), or socializing (4 minutes).

(Read the full New York Times article, “Facebook Has 50 Minutes of Your Time Each Day. It Wants More.“)

I’m not suggesting that everyone needs to sign off Facebook and head to the nearest yoga studio. The point is that with only 24 hours in a day, up to 1/3 of which are spent sleeping, we can (and should) find ways to take better care of ourselves.

How will you connect with your own self to connect better with others?