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Connectors are people with a special social talent. They serve as conduits within networks, bringing partners and teams together to create new and more powerful collaborations. If you’re lucky enough to have connectors in your social circle, your access to opportunities and information can increase exponentially. If you can become a connector, you can bring that same advantage to your business presence.
So, how do you level up from mere networking and become a connector. Today we’ll examine the distinction between the two, and show you how you can increase your social “connectivity!”
First, let’s look at some definitions. Business success has always been about making connections, even back when professionals were organized into mercantile guilds. Technology has made professional networks infinitely much more streamlined and plastic. Take LinkedIn – if you have a resume, you’ve got access to a specialized networking hub that can put you in contact with an unlimited number of jobs and professional development opportunities. Building your network is as simple as logging into a social-media platform and clicking a couple of profile page links.
Networking at a basic level can be summed up as one-way or two-dimensional: join a social network, post your resume on a job-hunting website, email a colleague. The rapid expansion of social networks, has actually made professional networking daunting for many people. With so many possibilities, how do you navigate a clear path? How do you decide which connections to prioritize? Social networking technology has become smarter even as it has become more powerful – to go back to the LinkedIn example, the site has evolved from a profile network to include groups based on professional background and interest as well as articles on relevant business topics. These functions are closer to true connectivity.
Connectors take a more integrated, forward-thinking approach. Instead of simply reaching out in order to establish a single link, connectors create multiple links. Connectors don’t just access networks. They build networks, serving as focal points for entire groups of talented people. If your social circle includes a connector, chances are you have access to valuable opportunities – and not just that, but you’re probably close to a set of high-level collaborations and synergistic possibility.
Connectors tend to have certain talents, but connectivity is a set of skills.
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Part of becoming a connector is learning to focus on quality, not quantity. Anyone can go to a networking event and hand out business cards, but it takes careful attention to know which connections will be the most productive – not only for you, but for the people already in your network. The best way to find out whose skills and interests will be a good match is to listen. When you meet a new contact, take a few minutes to ask them about their recent projects and long-term goals. If you can link them up with someone in your existing network, both of your connections will appreciate the favor.
Play It Forward
Like we covered above, networking involves reaching out to a valuable connection who might be able to help you out. To level up to connector grade, try to see how many of these contacts you can utilize to put two or more people in your network in contact. You’ll gain social and professional cred, but you’ll also make your professional connection much stronger. It’s one thing to exchange a few emails, but if you connect a new colleague to someone in your network, you create a much more durable professional relationship. This strategy also helps you leverage the connection in the other direction, which will make it easier for you to ask your connection to hook you up with their professional network.
Connectors are distinguished by a special ability to match supply with demand, finding creative ways to solve problems and devise partnerships. One great way to develop this specialization is by considering skill development as well as skill sets. For example, do you have a friend who creates art installations? They might like to train as a videographer or some other medium. Do you have a friend who has worked as a researcher in an academic context? They might be interested in journalism or marketing research. Do you know someone who designs websites for corporate clients, or a brilliant event planner? They might be willing to assist an emerging nonprofit trying to host galas or reach donors online.
Don’t Hesitate to Ask
Many connectors demonstrate an impressive level of confidence and eloquence. Charisma is a natural draw, but it also makes them easy to help, because they’re typically forthright about their needs and interests. Many people weaken their social connectivity by holding back. They feel awkward asking for a favor, reaching out to a secondary contact, or even approaching someone at a networking event. A good way to reframe these interactions is to see them as mutually beneficial. You’re not demanding a networking favor, you’re establishing a connection that will support you both.
Improvement takes time – and this is just as true for “soft” skills like social confidence, interpersonal communication, and collaborative teambuilding. If you can invest some time and energy into growing your networking capacity, you’ll connect on a whole new level.
Are you interested in learning more about professional networking development and other marketing strategies? At Square 1 Group, we make it our business to create multilayered technology and marketing solutions for our clients, tailoring our approach to your resources and needs. Contact us for a consultation today!