Building Stronger Connections and Communities - A Call to Action

Barb Smith | Project Heard | Woman of Power

Networking. How can one word turn my knees to jelly and make my stomach flip flop?  The mere sight of the word makes me ill. I hate networking. In my book it’s right up there with anchovies, cold calling and root canals. Not a fan. However, I do love people. I am always interested in learning more about them, their stories and what  makes them tick. My kids will warn their friends before they introduce me with a roll of their eyes, “Get ready to be grilled.” Or let out a breathless sigh followed by, “Oh, Mother Please.” when I am in the midst of a particularly good line of questioning. 

Have you read the book "Now Discover Your Strengths" by Marcus Buckingham or taken its associated test to uncover your strengths?  I have had the opportunity to take the test a couple of times in the past couple of decades and one thing has remained consistent- my towering strength is “woo” which stands for winning others over. Yep, I am the one who makes friends effortlessly, easily strikes up a conversation, and tries to find ways to invite others into the mix. So naturally you would think that a gal like me loves to network. Ugh. That word again.  

I do enjoy getting to know people, but the thing that really makes my heart sing is when I can help make a connection. Not in a swipe left or right kind of way. I mean connecting two people who may have never met and helping them to resolve a particular problem or issue. Problem solving through connections- that’s what I do. This is the part where you stop me and say (after loudly clearing your throat) “Excuse me, my dear, that is the definition of networking.”   

The word networking conjures up all kinds of nightmarish visions for me. You know the ones, where you walk into a room alone filled with strangers who are paired up and highly engaged in their own conversations and every time you walk up they turn and walk away. It’s sprinkled with a healthy dose of self-doubt and “what ifs” - it oozes of uncomfortable memories like those of walking into the first day of school or work.  

If I take that same situation and think about how I can use my community of connections, knowing that I have something to offer, it suddenly seems like the room is filled with opportunity.  

Who will I meet and make a connection? Networking seems selfish, but making a connection is selfless.  

Now, I wouldn’t say that I don’t leverage my connections for my own problem resolution; it’s just not its sole purpose. I have leveraged my connections to open the door to my very first job and every day since throughout my 33-year career journey. My connection community has played a number of roles in my life from sounding boards, coaches, and mentors, to advocates and sponsors. I have played those same roles just as many times for others. The one thing I treasure most about my community of connections is its diversity - I have met the most interesting people in every part of my life who support and challenge me - that’s what makes it unique. 

What does your community look like? When was the last time you leveraged it to make a connection for someone? I invite you to join me in building your community by joining Key4Women where you will find a vibrant community of entrepreneurial and professional women who make connections, advocate and empower each other to make better, more confident financial decisions.  

©2018 KeyCorp. KeyBank is Member FDIC.  180201-352037

Barb Smith is Senior Vice President, Director of Key4Women at KeyBank.  She is privileged to spend her days focused on how KeyBank can help women reach their financial goals. Key4Women is a women-focused initiative that provides insight, tools and support to female entrepreneurs and leaders. 

/ Print
Posted by Barb Smith in Leadership, Spotlight

Most Recent

How do you tackle a complex problem? With all the help you can get.

By Sue Krey
February 12, 2018 Category: Leadership, Spotlight

Ending homelessness. That sounds like a lofty goal, doesnt it? Its an idea so complex that it doesnt seem like it can be done. However, at the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland, weve already seen a drastic drop in the number of people experiencing long-term homelessness in our county. In fact, community partners recently announced that long-term homelessness in Cuyahoga County is on pace to end by 2020. How is that possible? For us, the key was recognizing that it couldnt be done alone. The Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland addresses health, education and housing for vulnerable populations, and we rely heavily on our ability to convene, collaborate and be a voice at the table. We find community connection is just as important to our success as our grantmaking. So when we, along with others in the community, set our sights on ending homelessness in Cuyahoga County, we knew we needed to get strong community partners on the same team we needed collective impact. I know

Building Stronger Connections and Communities - A Call to Action

By Barb Smith
February 12, 2018 Category: Leadership, Spotlight

Networking. How can one word turn my knees to jelly and make my stomach flip flop? The mere sight of the word makes me ill. I hate networking. In my book its right up there with anchovies, cold calling and root canals. Not a fan. However, I do love people. I am always interested in learning more about them, their stories and what makes them tick. My kids will warn their friends before they introduce me with a roll of their eyes, Get ready to be grilled. Or let out a breathless sigh followed by, Oh, Mother Please. when I am in the midst of a particularly good line of questioning. Have you read the book Now Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham or taken its associated test to uncover your strengths? I have had the opportunity to take the test a couple of times in the past couple of decades and one thing has remained consistent- my towering strength is woo which stands for winning others over. Yep, I am the one who makes friends effortlessly, easily strikes up a conversation, and tries

Loving and Leading: Why You Should Bring More Love into the Workplace

By Raquel Eatmon
February 07, 2018 Category: Raquel

To handle yourself, use your head: To handle others use your heart. ~Eleanor Roosevelt We arecelebrating Valentines Day and love is in the air, or at least it should be. I know, it might seem awkward to talk about love and leadership but hear me out. Love, as most of us know it, is an expression we reserve for family (this includes our beloved pets) and friends. We excitedly embrace the warm and fuzzy feelings these people bring. Why cant we stir up warm emotions for our team and clients? Why wouldnt we want them to feel that same kinship for us? There are degrees of love. You can love one person more than others, you can experience romantic love or feel love for humanity- we all have so much love to give. A humanitarian love in the workplace can influence your leadership. It fosters compassion, integrity, empathy and a host of other healthy emotions. When your colleague feel a sense of love from you or a supervisor, she/he is more likely to transport caring feelings to others on the

Project Heard: In Association with

Connect With Us

© , ProjectHEARD Powered by Virteom