Stop Networking and Start Connecting!

There’s a popular saying that success is not about what you know, it’s about who you know. I’ve come to realize that is false. 

Don’t get me wrong, relationships are important for our success professionally and personally, and there are many influences in our lives that help us get to where we are. Knowing the right people can open doors and make certain steps to where we want to go easier, but knowing someone is not enough. The key is to make meaningful connections. When you do this you create strong and reliable relationships with people that will support you, encourage you, and will go out of their way to help you when you need it. Likewise, you will be able to help and support them in return.

Recently, I had the incredible opportunity to be the keynote speaker for the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans Annual Meeting. I had an amazing time kicking off the second day of their event where I shared my message on The Art of Connecting: How to Motivate, Influence, and Relate to Anybody. I enjoyed engaging with the 5,000+ amazing employee benefits leaders who attended and loved seeing them connecting with one another.

In our time together I shared practical strategies on how to have more meaningful conversations, my 4 leadership languages, and how to build rapport through nonverbal communication.


Ask more personal questions to really get to know someone, to make them feel important and valued.

Learn valuable information about a person-their name, what their passions are, what their goals are.

Give someone your undivided attention so they know you are present and interested.

Spend quality time with someone, whether it’s going over a business idea, talking over coffee, sharing thoughts.

Offer support and help when needed.

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou


Combining information that I have learned over the years with experience in many professional settings, I designed what I call the Four Leadership Languages. This tool helps individuals understand their unique leadership style to help them thrive, build strong connections, and work well with others in the professional environment. The following are the four styles of leadership:



Relationship driven

Results driven

Each of these has its own set of specific strengths, challenges, motivations, and opportunities for growth that provide insight into leadership and connection style.


Body language can say a lot. When you are speaking with someone, in a meeting, listening to a friend or colleague, your body language tells a lot about how engaged you are. You can build rapport and trust when you are aware of what message you are sending to others by how you hold your body.

Make eye contact. This is a big one! Make sure you maintain eye contact when someone is speaking, that way they know you are not focused on something else.

Standing or sitting facing someone versus off to the side let’s others know you are sharing the same space with them.

Pay attention to what your arms are doing-are they crossed in front of you? This could give the impression that you are on the defense, bored, or closed off. Putting your hands in your pockets, leaving your arms by your side, clasping your hands in front of you, all are signs that you are engaged, open, and listening.

These are a few tips on how to pay attention to what your body language is telling others and how you can show them you are attentive and engaged.

There is value and importance in making the time to get to know someone by being fully present, engaged, empathetic, and curious. Simple body language and asking more personal and specific questions can lead to a great, long-lasting connection.

Taking time to get to know someone even just a little bit can create a lasting, meaningful connection that can be invaluable. The next time you network, remember to be mindful of your body language, ask more personal questions, and give your undivided attention.

About Hoan

Hoan Do is an award-winning inspirational speaker, author of Creating Momentum in Your Life, and city finalist in NBC’s hit show American Ninja Warrior. Overcoming adversities in life has allowed Hoan to connect with others in a powerful way. Hoan travels the world sharing messages of hope and inspiration. 

Through partnering with organizations, colleges, and schools, Hoan’s practical strategies have impacted over 250,000 professionals and students. He has been featured on Good Morning America, NBC, Yahoo Finance, The Chicago Tribune, and Lay’s chip bags nationwide. The Seattle Magazine recognized Hoan as one of the top 25 influential people in Seattle. His engaging style and ability to share important life lessons in a way that people resonate with has earned him the Verizon Wireless Motivator Award.

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