Meaningful Connections Made Much Easier

February 24, 2018
Phil Zeltzman, DVM, DACVS, CVJ, Fear Free Certified

Dr. Zeltzman is a board-certified veterinary surgeon and serial entrepreneur. His traveling surgery practice takes him all over eastern Pennsylvania and western New Jersey. You can visit his websites at and

We meet countless people throughout our lives, but the secret to truly connecting with others is to make a conscious effort to share your time, experience and knowledge.

Anybody who’s been in the veterinary profession for more than a week understands that we are not in the pet business. We are in the people business. We interact with people all the time — from our coworkers, colleagues and clients to friends, family members and complete strangers. But meeting and interacting with people is one thing. Truly connecting with them is an altogether different experience.


  • Map Out a Successful Communications Strategy
  • Connecting with Clients During End-of-Life Care

So, how do you make a meaningful connection with someone?

First you need to know yourself. According to best-selling author and success mentor Darren Hardy, there are three types of people in this world:

  • Takers receive more than they give. They take more emotional, financial or time capital from a potential connection than they contribute. For a variety of reasons, takers feel entitled.
  • Matchers reciprocate what others do. If they are invited for dinner, they will return the favor. But they will not invite the person to a birthday party if they haven’t been invited first. Matchers keep a mental log of these events to make sure they are treated fairly.
  • Givers altruistically give more of their “time, attention, effort, thought and consideration,” Hardy explained. “They are depositing way more in the emotional bank account than the others.”

If you’re not sure which type of person you are, ask someone who will be upfront enough to tell you the truth.

As you might imagine, it’s much more rewarding to be a giver. So when you know you’re going to meet someone, think of something you can give without expecting anything in return. You can share your time, knowledge, experience, emotional strength and so much more. If you’re wondering what you can give to a particular person, remember this acronym:

  • F — family
  • O — occupation
  • R — recreation
  • M ­— money or meaning

A great way to think about what to give to someone is by filtering everything you come across: rare opportunities, scientific articles, motivational quotes, great pictures, outstanding books, you name it.

Of course, I am not suggesting that you give a book or a discount or movie tickets to everyone you meet! Here are some real-life examples:

  • A friend asked me to participate in a roundtable over a few weeks. I couldn’t commit to all the dates, so I gave my seat at the table (with permission) to a practice manager. She loved the experience, and the honorarium was a nice surprise.
  • I offered to scrub in with a young colleague the next time she does a laparotomy. Beyond the actual technical act, this will be a great opportunity for her to review basic surgical concepts.
  • I introduced a well-known speaker to a veterinary student who needed someone to complete her lineup for a big annual conference she is organizing.

Opportunities for giving of yourself are endless if you make a conscious effort. So be a giver. Share with your network. Create deep connections. And make the world a better place.

Dr. Zeltzman is a board-certified veterinary surgeon and serial entrepreneur. His traveling surgery practice takes him all over Eastern Pennsylvania and Western New Jersey. You can visit his websites at and