Perhaps it’s a side effect of my small town upbringing, or maybe I’m wired this way, but at my heart, I am a simple person. The simple things usually make the biggest difference and have the deepest meaning, whether you are talking about connections, business or life.

For example, no matter our preferred style of communication, nearly everyone appreciates a kind word or thoughtful follow-up if they’ve shared something with you about an upcoming milestone, celebration, or activity taking place in their life. For example, if I share with you that my favorite band is coming to town next month and I’m going to the concert, inquiring about that experience during our next conversation would go a long way in acknowledging that we’ve connected.

This doesn’t require you to go to the concert yourself or listen to any of the music, it simply requires you to listen, absorb, remember and inquire. (I’d like to tell you we are going to call this the LARI principle, but that is not my intent). Remember, we are keeping it simple.

Here are my top 3 suggestions for small acts that could solidify or build meaningful connections:

  • Reach out on special occasions with more than baseline effort. Send a birthday text instead of a stock “Happy Birthday” wall post on social media. A thoughtful note of congratulations on a job promotion or achievement goes farther than a thumbs up or heart on a news feed.
  • Connect over a game. One of the things I learned in Option B by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant was that a small act of connection she had with family members after the death of her husband was to play online Scrabble. Perhaps your connection with a friend is similar. Taking a few minutes a week to engage in an online game with a friend or family member won’t simply bring to mind your next move, but will also remind you of this person, thus strengthening that bond.
  • Just do it. In short hand, JDI is one of the categories on my weekly to-do list. These are small things (under 5 minutes), that I simply have to get done. From the standpoint of connections, JDI comes into play when I’m thinking of someone. In that moment, I reach out with a “thinking of you” text, email or private message on social media. No questions, no hesitations, just do it!

Small acts of connection are also a great way to strengthen the bond with strangers or “Hey, Friends” (remember that from way back in Week 1?)

  • Compliment. I’ve never met a woman (and I would imagine some guys) who doesn’t like a compliment on her outfit, shoes or hairstyle. You don’t have to know someone to pay them a compliment.
  • Question. If someone says something interesting, is holding a book / device / object that intrigues you, ask them about it. The worst thing that will happen is that they ignore you or choose not to engage. That’s on them, not you.
  • Engage. This could be accomplished in person or online. It’s related to the social media tips I shared in Week 32. If there is an interesting conversation happening that you have interest in, join in the conversation. Engage, make your thoughts heard. I’ve heard many stories of thoughtful social media interactions leading to meaningful offline connections.

If I were trying to make this complex, I’d thank you for learning the LARI principle, which is supported with the RCJ steps (including the JDI approach) and the CQE plan.

I’m not looking to turn what is one of the basic human needs – connection – into the next acronym. What I am doing is reminding you that simple, quick, and no cost actions are one of your greatest resources as you seek to build meaningful connections.

What’s a small act of connection that has made the greatest impact for you?

Who will you engage with in a simple way this week?

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Small Town Leadership Founder; Natalie believes everything she needed to know to succeed in her career she learned by growing up in a town of 600 people. As a Certified Professional Coach and award-winning public speaker, she helps her clients and audiences make wherever they are feel like a small town. She lives in Dublin, Ohio with her husband, Rob, a professor at Ohio State and two little girls.

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