If you read last week’s Marketing Matters article, it was about a book to put on your “Get” list…and then, when you see what it does for you, should be on your “Give” list for everyone you know who need to discover what their strengths are. Teach With Your Strengths allows the reader to determine their top five strengths which will provide the foundation to help them to achieve to their maximum potential.

For the longest time, I thought one of my strengths was organization. As I get older, I realize that isn’t so.  Strengths are something that just “are,”  and I really had to work at organization (and still do).  Interestingly, one of my strengths, “input,” can overwhelm “organization.”  That’s certainly true for me; just ask my wife about all the “papers” around the house!

Another strength is “connectedness.”  I really didn’t grasp its meaning until I began to realize the wealth of knowledge contained within forum discussion boards and eCommunity forums on the Web.  “Connectedness” doesn’t mean one always needs to be connected to someone, but can find and make connections, between and among people, organizations, and ideas.

Today, we’re all too aware of the power of connectedness in social media.  Sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn remind us that even though we are individuals, imbued with unique traits, abilities and talents, we are also social beings, connected to one another in ways that aren’t always obvious to us.  The problem is we tend to focus on our differences rather than our similarities.  In fact, in the book “Many and the One: Communitarian Nondualism,” author Beatrice Bruteau states, “We find that we are defined by our mutual negation.”  That is, we’re not so much defined by who we are, but by what we aren’t.  We just think we’re more than we are, but the reality is that we’re all broken…sinners, if you will…and are therefore imperfect.  And we need others to complete our inherent imperfections.  This is the essential thinking behind the effectiveness of support groups.

In today’s technology-rich world, expertise is now developed by connecting specialists with each other and then “following” those whom one identifies with. The key to success is to become a thought-leader – and the way to do that is to find connections between things that, on the surface, seem disconnected.

Creativity happens when divergent ideas can be brought together with a common thread. The same is true of individuals – when specialists from diverse background come together, some interesting things happen – new knowledge is created, and new friendships are formed.

So here’s another text that will help you harness the power of connectedness and rich relationships – The Little Black Book of Connections.  Author Jeffrey Gitomer sums the concept up as soon as you open the book: “All things being equal, people want to do business with their friends. All things being not quite so equal, people still want to do business with their friends. To climb the ladder of success, you don’t need more techniques and strategies – you need more friends.” It is the essence of community.

Such is also the mindset that makes “Word of Mouth” Marketing the most powerful way to get your message about your school into the marketplace. It is why open houses are important; it is why one “thank you” phone call isn’t enough. The only way to develop a relationship is to communicate with gratitude. The way to begin a relationship is by being a friend.

Successful non-profits publish a list of “Friends” in their annual reports rather than “Donors.”  Even Jesus said, “No longer are you slaves; I call you ‘friends'” (John 15:15).

© Michael V. Ziemski, SchoolAdvancement, 2007-2022 (Original publication date: 20071203)