Big Lessons Learned: Author Talk with Susan McPherson


BLOG Susan McPherson.png


Here at the Forem, we can’t stress enough the importance of authentic networking, which is why we were pleased to host Susan McPherson, author of The Lost Art of Connecting: The Gather, Ask, Do Method for Building Meaningful Business Relationships to share her advice with our community.

In discussion with The Forem CEO, Alli Young, Susan broke down her “Gather, Ask, Do” methodology and shared firsthand ripple-down effects of generosity-first networking.

In case you missed it, here are three key takeaways to think about as we work toward building more meaningful professional relationships.

1. Be intentional about the community you build for yourself.

We’re collectively navigating a year+ of lost connections, which Susan embraces as a unique opportunity for a network reset. We have the chance to be truly intentional about who we align ourselves with.

In a world increasingly divided by conflict, it’s important to acknowledge the gaps of representation in our circles, and commit to learning from a diverse range of people and perspectives. We can also choose to let go of some connections that may not be adding value or giving us energy.

Ultimately, who you surround yourself with will inform your inspiration and your career path.

While “being friendly” with lots of people is certainly virtuous, being mindful about who you invest time in building relationships with will optimize your personal and professional growth.

2. Learn what others want. (It makes being responsive easier.)

For effective networking, Susan stresses the importance of discovering others’ desires. This can be as simple as asking what method of communication they prefer, or as engaged as prompting them to elaborate on their personal goals.

When you begin new connections from a place of curiosity (opposed to yes/no questions or ponderings about the weather), you create spaces for exchange. Essentially, you learn their desires so you can find opportunities to offer, and/or to be accommodating of their interests and preferences.

In Susan’s words, “everyone is deserving of your respect and your understanding,” and knowing people’s desires up front is a fast-track to offering them both.

3. Being vulnerable and authentic is a vital leadership quality. 

Often the phrase “bring your whole self to work” is tossed around in the corporate workspace, yet Susan points out that there isn’t enough example-setting from the c-suite for employees to actually feel comfortable doing so.

Especially for minority-represented employees who often feel they need to alter their demeanor to “fit in” with white-dominated industries… having authentic, vulnerable leaders would empower them to follow suit and feel more comfortable at work.

Being true to yourself when networking is key to building meaningful relationships, but it becomes even more important in positions of leadership to set the example that actually being yourself at work is okay.

You can read the full breakdown of the “Gather, Ask, Do” method in Susan’s book, The Lost Art of Connecting. In the meantime, subscribe to The Forem newsletter to be sure you don’t miss similar upcoming events!