As we’ve been preparing for ICBA Connect, the Community Banker University education team has been thinking a great deal about connection. It fuels everything we do, and it drives our growth, but what is connection exactly, and how do we make meaningful connections?
First and foremost, connection is about creating relationships. It’s about having conversations that go beyond the surface, that are respectful, comfortable and authentic. It’s an energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard and valued, and from which all parties derive strength.
There are many ways of creating meaningful connection, starting with being friendly and genuine, asking questions and finding things that you have in common. In a professional context, connecting means providing exceptional customer service so that the interaction is meaningful.
Consider these examples:
- Go the extra mile. Provide customers the information they want, and then some.
- Listen. If a customer is extra conversational, follow their lead.
- Be patient. If they have a lot of questions, take your time answering them.
- Take action. If they have a concern that involves a different department, make sure they get to the right person.
- Be efficient. Respond to customers in a timely manner.
- Have gratitude. Most importantly, thank them for their business.
Connections and relationships define who we are and what we do. Little things like saying hello, holding a door open or smiling at someone can have a transformative effect.
We learn valuable lessons from others, even from their missteps. Powerful connections can challenge you to do, and be, better.
In community banking, this means finding connections with your team, customers and communities. Making those connections can drive customer engagement and brand loyalty.
Another essential way of building connection is by getting involved with us here at ICBA. Community bankers often share that doing just that—making connections within the industry—is one of the best professional and personal decisions they have made.
From a practical standpoint, creating a connection with ICBA will ensure you have access to the latest and greatest advocacy efforts, regulatory resources like the Compliance Vault, education opportunities, solution providers and more. Reach out to your community bank’s member relations officer or anyone on the ICBA team. Get connected with us via Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube. There is a community connecting daily on these channels.
A lack of connection can feel isolating, and the past year has taught us that sometimes we have to find fresh ways of maintaining existing connections and making new ones. Leverage that momentum this year by connecting with others in multiple ways and on various levels.
Lindsay LaNore (firstname.lastname@example.org) is group executive vice president and chief learning and experience officer