I used to cringe when people would refer to me as a “connector.” To me, that meant I was someone who networks 24/7, is obsessed with meeting famous people, and amasses a huge Rolodex for my own purposes, and that is so NOT me.
If you’ve read Smart Networking, you know that I wrote it for people who don’t want to network all the time, but want to be authentic and giving when they do.
Over the years though, I came to realise that in fact, I AM a connector, just a different sort.
I like helping others connect. Connect to other people, connect to information, connect to new audiences. And I love creating environments like my Monetize Your Expertise event in Philadelphia last year, and my Sun and Strategy Mastermind in Florida the year before that where the people in the room really open up, contribute ideas and collaborate with each other, and form lasting relationships in a very short amount of time.
So I guess I’m more of a “connection catalyst!”
What’s so important about being a connector? Part of what makes people WANT to work with you is your interest and commitment to building mutually beneficial relationships where you help advance the goals of others in the best way that you can. In the process, you actually end up advancing your own goals as well.
Being a connector is easier than you think. You don’t need a huge Rolodex or any special resources or super powers. What’s more important is the willingness and the openness to share what you do have. Here are 4 different options to try:
- Online. Social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook make it so easy to share other people’s articles, posts and promotions with your followers, fans and friends. On Twitter, you can retweet a post with a few simple keystrokes, while on Facebook, you can click the “Like” button, make a comment or share a post on your own wall. On LinkedIn, you can forward the profile of one contact to another to make an introduction. Don’t underestimate the power of these activities just because they take mere seconds to execute.
- Informal meetings. A great technique I heard from a friend is to plan a monthly breakfast or lunch with a colleague or two, and each one brings another person along to introduce to the group. It’s a fun, low-key way to connect who you know with people they should know and to expand your own network as well.
- Large events. Ten years ago, a friend and I joined forces and partnered with a local professional association to start a networking group specifically for independent consultants. Hosting monthly events with guest speakers helped me bring folks together in a structured way to learn, to meet each other and to support our businesses. While the group no longer exists, the relationships we’ve made are still there.
- Connector’s choice. Find something you enjoy doing and be a connector around that. Like to read? Start a business book club in person or virtually. Love art? Organize regular visits to local museums or galleries and spread the word through your email list. Or use Meetup.com to connect with people who share the same interest. I love to learn and interview people about what they do, so one of my favorite ways to be a connector is to host free calls with the people in my network. Every month in the Smart Networking Shift series, I get a chance to connect an expert in my network to an audience who’s hungry for their information. It’s so much fun for me, it hardly feels like work!