What's the point of being a connector?
photo by Ben Alford
I was at a networking event the other day and one of the people that I was meeting with remarked “You’re a Connector, aren’t you?”.
Malcolm Gladwell popularized the term Connector in his best selling book The Tipping Point a few years ago. Simplistically Connectors are people that know a lot of other people, although a more complete explanation would be people that actively build connections with an intention to find win-win situations.
On a more generic level, I look at connecting as the evolution of networking – the goal for connecting is to actively listen to the people you meet and do your best to help them out – often by introducing them to someone that can potentially help them, either a prospect, a collaboration partner of some sort or a solutions provider.
My approach to networking for the last year or so has been to work hard at becoming a connector, so it was nice to be recognized (although that’s not why I’m doing it).
Why do I want to be a connector (and why do I think you should be a connector? Read on!
Connectors are Problem Solvers
The primary reason I got into business coaching (and consulting before that) is because I’m a problem solver – whether it’s a flaw or just how I’m wired, I am constantly looking for ways to make things better. (My engineering background might play into that as well…).
I like to solve problems on my own, but the world’s a big place and it’s pretty easy to figure out that I’m not going to be an expert at everything and in fact, I don’t want to be an expert at a lot of things. That means the best answer to a lot of problems is most likely an introduction to someone else.
Which is exactly what a connector does.
My job as a Business Coach is to help my clients win, and I help them win by helping them identify their problems (not just the symptoms, but the root problem), prioritize them and solve them. Often a critical part of the solution will involve introducing them to the right resource. Since I’m doing that for my clients anyway, it just makes sense that I would do it for other people I meet as well.
At the end of the day, I win when my clients win (or even when people I’m connected with win). By consistently looking for win-win solutions, I get to be in the middle of a group of people that are constantly doing better. And I believe the best way to succeed is to surround yourself with smart, successful people.
Why should you be a connector?
Ivan Misner is a famous author and speaker and the founder of Business Networking International and his mantra for BNI is “Givers Gain”.
“Givers Gain” because the best way to get help from someone else is to help them first…with a caveat that you need to help them because you want to, not because you’re expecting something in return.
On a more tangible level, imagine having a strong network of friends, co-workers, associates, networking partners, clients and others that Know, Like and Trust you. The kind of network that will gladly introduce you to their friends (because they know, like and trust). The kind of network that keeps you top of mind for referrals when they see people that need the kind of help you can give them. That’s the kind of network that generate huge amounts of business for you.
The best way to make that kind of network is to help other people (are you sensing a recurring theme)? Not because you’re trying to trick them into ‘owing’ you something but because you genuinely like them and want to introduce them to win-win situations.
The best way to make that kind of network is to be a connector.
What are you looking for?
My network isn’t complete, but it is pretty comprehensive…in other words, if you’re looking for some kind of help I bet I can help you find someone that I would recommend that can help you.
Try it out – let me know what problem you need to solve and I will hook you up with the right introduction! Share your comments here or drop me an email.
Shawn Kinkade Kansas City Business Coach