Have we lost the art of connecting?

We read "The Lost Art of Connecting: The Gather, Ask, Do Method for Building Meaningful Business Relationships" by Susan McPherson. See what we thought and how it informed our daily communication.
Jason Walkow
March 5, 2024

PSV is big on relationships. As a studio focused on connecting with people who have great ideas, we’re always looking for ways to enhance our relationships and create strong, lasting bonds. But in a distributed, virtual world, connecting on a personal level often feels awkward and forced. With the intention of honing our own connection skills, we read "The Lost Art of Connecting: The Gather, Ask, Do Method for Building Meaningful Business Relationships" by Susan McPherson for our monthly team book club. It had a big impact on us as a team in both how we communicate with each other and how we develop relationships outside of the studio. It also helped inform us of a few blindspots for a new project we’re working on with the goal to help professionals build strong bonds - but more on that soon.

As you might have gleaned from the title, McPherson breaks down her strategy into three steps: Gather, Ask, Do. Each step is fairly intensive but highly effective in truly connecting in meaningful ways, as evidenced by the author’s own success.

Gather: McPherson emphasizes the importance of expanding your network beyond your usual circles. For founders, this means connecting with industry experts, potential customers, and other stakeholders outside of your typical network to gain diverse perspectives. And for each of those connections, digging a bit deeper to learn about their values, interests, communication style, and any “uncommon commonalities” that you might share with them to strengthen your bond instantly.

Ask: The book highlights the power of asking open-ended questions to encourage meaningful conversations. In meaningful relationships, this can often be boiled down to asking people in your network: “How can I help?” This could involve sharing something with your network, introducing connections to other connections, or even a short 5-minute ask like giving feedback on a new idea. By actively listening and seeking to understand their perspectives, you can gain valuable insights and build trust within the relationship.

Do: McPherson stresses the importance of taking action based on the insights you've gained. Whether this is implementing feedback received from a contact (known as “closing the loop”) or reciprocating with support and connections. By demonstrating your commitment to their success and ongoing engagement with their goals, you can highlight your competence, experience, and values while also ensuring your connection feels seen, safe, and secure.

With these methods in place, McPherson empowers everyone to focus on building intentional connections to expand your “constellation” and connect in meaningful, lasting ways. She also drops a few easy tips for maintaining your relationships as well, so you don’t fall into the trap of only reaching out to connections when you need them.

  1. 10 weekly touches: Reach out to 10 different contacts every week. This can be as simple as a “Thinking of you” email or a message closing the loop on a restaurant they recommended. Keeping in contact with light touch points helps you stay top of mind.
  2. Chief differentiating factor: Discover what makes your connection truly unique and then show them that you know and value that quality.
  3. Be the host: If you’re having trouble growing your network or creating lasting bonds, host a get-together of people you’re already comfortable with and then tell each of them to bring one new person to introduce to the group. Before you know it, your network will grow exponentially.
We created a mind-map to organize key concepts and learnings

Susan McPherson's "The Lost Art of Connecting" is a must-read for those looking to make meaningful connections that last - and as we learned in the book, that should be everyone. The more we focus on stronger, inspiring connections, the more we feel motivated to grow our network and dream bigger. What’s your method for creating bonds that last?

Check out "The Lost Art of Connecting" by Susan McPherson.

Thanks for reading!

Jason Walkow

Jason Walkow is Head of Design at Plain Sight Ventures. In his free time, Jason enjoys running, eating at the newest spots, and anything coffee-related.

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