The Importance of Genuine Connections

Building your Rolodex is fine, but it won't help you achieve greatness. That's why it's so important to foster real relationships, says the guest of this week's BusinessCast

Written by Andrew Brown & Robert Gold

“I’m 35 years old, a new father, a loving husband. I’m a dreamer. I want to go out there and make something of my life, and I want others to do the same.”

Meet Kenneth Sum, co-executive director of the Toronto-based SIPO Foundation and the guest on this week’s BusinessCast. His purpose at SIPO—which stands for Spreading Ideas, Providing Opportunities—is to help anyone young (or young at heart) achieve their highest purpose.

Like so many ventures, SIPO started out with four guys in a coffee shop—Sum among them. They got talking about how they could make their lives the way they wanted them to be. They realized they were craving guidance on everything from their careers to their family lives.

“We didn’t have those answers, so we started calling experts in those fields,” says Sum. “We found there was such great information out there, but it wasn’t being shared.”

With that, SIPO was born with the mandate to gather people together to share their experiences in becoming happier with their lives—be it through landing a business, starting a company or simply chasing a dream.

It’s Sum’s belief that the most effective way for people to share experiences is by building in-person relationships, wherein people can be inspired by the stories of others, get equipped to act on expert advice and foster connections by “sitting kneecap to kneecap with someone who has insight you might not about getting to the next level.” (SIPO is holding a conference on May 17 in Toronto with just that goal in mind.)

“We want to make sure connecting doesn’t mean just building a Rolodex,” says Sum. “It’s about having that personal relationship between a mentor and a mentee.”

In Sum’s view, SIPO’s work is vital—especially in a large city like Toronto, where, he says, it can be very hard to simply meet people. What would he say to those who might dismiss his work as trivial, or that happiness is overrated?

“What’s the alternative?” he says. “There are a lot of definitions for happiness, and we let people figure it out for themselves. Whatever makes you happy, we try to help your figure out how to get there.”

Listen in to this week’s BusinessCast for more of Sum’s thoughts. To download the full podcast, click on the iTunes logo below:

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Read: The Smart Leader’s Guide to Networking

Originally appeared on PROFITguide.com