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How big is your bandwidth?

Evidently John Donahue, president of Ebay has a very big one. In a recent article in the New York Times, Thomas Tierney, an Ebay director said Mr. Donahue has "an uncanny ability to connect with everyone from receptionists to chief executives. Getting along socially and being able to build relationships is a type of social bandwidth that is hard to come by." By giving Donahue high marks, Tierney was making the point that the range of people you can successfully communicate with (social bandwidth) is more important to leadership than technical know-how.

Ben Silverman, the co-chairman of NBC's entertainment division is also one of the premier networkers in a town (Los Angeles) where relationships often define success. No one seemed surprised when NBC hired the former television producer ("The Office") since according to the Times, "Silverman has international relationships unmatched everywhere."

Social bandwidth, relationships and emotional intelligence are the new currency of the realm. And if you're deficient in those areas, you're cooked. The annoying habits of hyper-distractedness and crackberry addiction; poor communication skills and bad attitude can derail even the most accomplished. There's only one remedy to bad social skills — good social skills. Here's how to approach the new and improved uber-connected you:

Treat everyone with respect. I judge people on the way they treat the shoeshine guy, the parking lot attendant and the boss. It all matters.

Be an active listener. Don't step on my lines, finish my thoughts or ask me to cut to the chase.

Stop whining. Don't disparage the competition. In fact, don't disparage anyone. Earn a reputation for staying optimistic no matter what the challenges.

Smile more. A top performer who wears a smile instead of a scowl builds teamwork and allegiance.

Look for opportunities to praise and nurture. Most people are ignored and overlooked whether at work or at home. Acknowledge their talents.

Initiate a hello. The person who extends their hand and introduces him/herself in any situation (meeting, networking event, cafeteria line) wins.

Encourage other people. Authentic leadership is not who occupies the corner office but the person who takes pleasure in other people's success.

Make eye contact. I'm not talking "the window to the soul." I'm talking about deepening the connection and the relationships that enlarge your life, never mind your bandwidth.

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© Copyright 2007 Ellen Lubin-Sherman

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