Connect or Communicate?

Written by: Nick

Walter Bond

Annual Meeting is a colossal event for our company. It is the one time when franchisees, office managers, home office employees and executives gather to share ideas, to celebrate (think college frat-party) and voice concerns. Conferences, tech-labs, roundtables and social events run non-stop for over five days. Needless to say, I was shocked when my supervisor invited me to attend the Annual Meeting in Grapevine, Texas.

Only six months into my first post-college “real-job” at Home Office, I never expected my social media superhero talents would be needed at Annual Meeting—when they were I gladly accepted the challenge.

I attended a multitude of “first timer” meetings and continuously revised my social media communication plan. However, I realized there was a little piece of fear residing in my subconscious. I recognized I was about to be thrown into a mix of over 200 strangers and that these 200 strangers needed to associate my name with a competent, intelligent, memorable young man that positively represents their company.

As a communication graduate from Michigan State University, I learned all about building rapport and impression management. I was taught to abide by the adage “think before you speak” as a means to prevent verbal vomit. I was taught that communication is the key to being successful. I reviewed my old notes about interpersonal communication and etiquette. By relying on my education communication I created a plan that would work and I would be a hit with the TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® franchisees.

Fast forward to the first morning of Annual Meeting.

I was wrong—terribly, utterly, wrong. While listening to our keynote speaker Walter Bond, I was taught a lesson in communication that had somehow been ignored by my professors. The manner in which he delivered this lesson was simple:

“Don’t communicate with others,” said Bond. “Connect with them.”

My first reaction was a valley-girl “duh” until the powerful phrase set in. I had planned to communicate my objectives, experience and “talk business” with our franchisees. Instead, I should have been focused on learning about them personally and forging positive relationships. Consequently, I made it a point throughout my tenure at Annual Meeting to do just that. Without connecting and building trust with them, they wouldn’t perceive me as a valuable resource.

This principle applies to all aspects of our business — our movers sharing laughs with our customers, our marketers creating relationships with non-profits, the executive staff getting to know the associates and everyone in between. The biggest thing I learned at Annual Meeting wasn’t about our sophisticated IT programs or how to cube a three-bedroom apartment. It was that personal connections drive us forward through life — they allow us to do bigger and better things.

Communication is just the road we take get there.

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