How to Thrive in Your Professional Connections
Lucinda Secrest McDowell
C. S. Lewis knew how important it was to have like-minded friends with similar interests and concerns. Those who shared the same passion for writing and creating –like J.R.R. Tolkien and Charles Williams. So, the Inklings gathered together twice a week in community, out of which came such classic works as The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings.
“It is important not to overstate the importance of this group, widely acclaimed as one of the greatest literary clubs of the twentieth century. To challenge the status quo demands fellowship and commitment. Lewis emphasized the privilege of being part of such a group ‘In a good Friendship, every member often feels humility towards the rest. He sees that they are splendid, and counts himself lucky to be among them.’” (Alister McGrath, “If I Had Lunch with C. S. Lewis”)
Do you have professional connections of the soul – like minded people who “get” you? By yourself you’re unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst. Can you round up a third? A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped. Ecclesiastes 4.12
I’m grateful for many friends, including my “spasisters” who offer endless counsel, wisdom, support and prayer for me both professionally and personally. This name is really misleading because we have never communed together over a whirlpool or sauna. But we have gathered for “spiritual spas” and I find I can jump right in no matter how long it has been since the last communique. No long explanations needed – we are all seasoned women in leadership seeking balance. They are truly sisters-who-know-what-my-life-is-like.
A new connection with a guild of mostly younger women who are writing and speaking on cutting edge issues is also timely for me. Every day these sisters (through our online group) teach me something new and point me to exciting ministries that are evolving in fresh wineskins. And occasionally, I’m able to offer wisdom and encouragement from my own lifetime of writing and speaking. I eagerly look forward to more.
Would you like to thrive in your own professional connections? Here are some guidelines I use in the publishing field – feel free to tailor them to your own milieu:
- Never Compare – Competition can kill professional connections. Please recognize that you both have strengths and unique stories to share. Don’t try to imitate her journey or personal style. Be confident in who you are and what you have to offer.
- Keep Confidences – Nothing destroys a relationship faster than telling secrets. Be a person she can trust, whether she talks to you about her new proposal, her financial advance, or a family struggle.
- Promote Her Publicly – Praise her on social media and recognize her contribution to your life (or even your work) when appropriate. Be a cheerleader.
- Brainstorm Together – One great service we can perform with others in the publishing industry is brainstorming over titles or plot devices or platform expanding. Listen. Then, be an authentic soundboard and always be kind.
- Refer Her When Appropriate –One day you may be asked to speak at an event (or write a book) on a theme that is not your forte, but fits her perfectly. How gracious if you recommend her as an even better expert on the subject.
- Plan Appointments – If you are both going to be at the same convention, sharing a platform, or even an airport, plan in advance a time for one-to-one catch up if at all possible. This shows how much you value keeping in touch.
- Share Her Joys – Make a deliberate effort to congratulate her on a new book release or an award nomination or win. Chances are nobody “at home” noticed, so your words will be especially appreciated.
- Endorse Her Work – If asked and you are able, seek to endorse her book or give a speaking endorsement for her website. “Do send me the manuscript and I will consider writing an endorsement if at all possible.”
- Don’t Use Her – Yes, our professional friends have all sorts of contacts and while there is nothing wrong with occasionally asking them to mention us to that event planner or editor, try not to make this a habit or certainly not the basis of your relationship.
- Keep Expectations Loose – She is your friend but she is also professional friends with many other people. So, don’t expect to always be included in every gathering and don’t assume rejection when you see her social media posts.
- Welcome New People – Don’t always gravitate just to those you already know at professional events. Reach out to welcome new people into your life and expect a blessing.
- Pray for Her – And by that, I mean don’t just say you will pray for her, do it! If possible, pray over specific requests (or dates or deadlines) that she shares with you. This may be the most important ‘glue’ for your relationship. We grow to love those for whom we pray.
There is strength in connection!
under the mercy, Lucinda
“Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity and Strength”
©2019 Lucinda Secrest McDowell www.EncouragingWords.net
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