Be a Connector!

 What’s your approach to networking? Do you cringe when you even hear the word or do you look forward to an opportunity to expand your professional network?

I do a lot career transition coaching and most of my clients seem to think networking is a four letter word and will do anything to avoid it—which is not a good thing when you’re looking for a new position. Or, actually, if you want to succeed in whatever field you’re in—networking is here to stay so we all need to find ways to do and do it well!

Lucky for me, I‘m someone who’d network 18 hours a day—I love meeting new people and hearing their stories. One of the ways networking is fun for me is when I can help other people connect.

Remember Malcolm Gladwell’s bestseller, The Tipping Point? If you’ve read the book you’ll probably remember his description of people who are “connectors”. It’s a pretty simple concept—connectors help other people get in touch with each other. 

Some people are natural connectors—they meet someone at an event and immediately think of someone they already know who this new person should know—because they either have something in common or one of the two people has knowledge of or interest in a subject the second person wants to learn or know.

Connectors have good memories or good records so that they can easily put the two people together—and sometimes the connection is made on the spot.

It happens to me all the time—I will be at an event or social function and will meet a new person and later at the same event I will meet someone else who is in the same field or who is looking for a job in the first person’s area of expertise.  It’s such fun for me to bring the two together. 

But, here’s how to make it really a connection—I don’t just say, Tony, I’d like you to meet Randy and then walk away. I share something about each of them that lets them both know it’s going to be worth their time to connect.

In addition to helping people meet other people, being a connector has other benefits:

  1. The people you connect are usually more likely to refer you to other opportunities since you’ve gone out of your way to introduce them to someone who may have been a real help to them.
  2. Being a connector provides you with a focus at a networking event. If you’re one of the many people who’d rather have a root canal than go to another event, if you go with the idea of helping other connect, you’ll be amazed at how many new contacts you get for yourself. This focus helps with the nerves many people feel as they walk into a room of relative strangers. 
  3.  And, in order to connect others, you first have to know something about each person so you can find someone to introduce them to—in other words, connect them to someone with a common interest, profession, or need. Get to know them by asking good questions about their lives.
  4.  By connecting people to others, you’re providing a valued resource.  There is usually a payoff to the connector—it may not be quick but most people are genuinely thankful for a good introduction and may help you by introducing you to your next great opportunity.

Working on your connecting skills will help you be a better networker so I encourage you to give it a try!

Barbara Mitchell

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