I believe in the power of networking and influencer marketing. However, it is my role as a connector that continues to build my business. As a connector, you can fold all those roles into one.
In connecting people, I meet peers and industry leaders who contribute to my network, including influencers who drive interest in my brand. I think the brand equity and reputation building that comes with being a connector, as well as the satisfaction it brings, is priceless.
Here's what I've learned about how to be a great connector within the business environment.
1. Listen and ask questions.
Being a connector is less about being a talker and more about taking on the role of an active listener. This is an information-gathering role, and talking only gets in the way of that goal.
Ask questions of those in your network—this helps to determine who might work well together. Focus on hearing what others have to say and how their strengths, skills, experience and values might be advantageous to someone else you know.
2. Focus on a few relationships.
Being a connector is not just about bringing everyone you can find together. It's about quality over quantity—building a few key relationships that deliver results to those involved.
Although it's great to have many followers on social media, I look to develop working relationships with a select few based on the potential I see for synergy, including knowledge, resources and their network.
3. Identify mutually beneficial situations.
My main criteria as a connector includes a list of questions to determine mutual benefit.
For example, when bringing two people together, will the new relationship help each person's business grow in some way? That could be by sharing resources, knowledge, talent or further connections.
The role of a connector is a curation process. It involves collecting information of interest that others might benefit from and then sharing that information.
—John Rampton, founder, Calendar
How will each person be better off from meeting and working together?
I recommend identifying the answers to these questions before proceeding with any connections.
4. Make connections happen.
The role of connector is not passive in any way, although it may first appear to be so.
It goes well beyond just introducing people to each other as if it were a professional matchmaking service. As a connector, it’s important to attend events and conferences, as well as meet and interact with people while traveling. I have to get the right people in the room at the same time and introduce them.
Online, I engage in discussions with others as well as constantly read up on trends, new companies and emerging entrepreneurs. This is an action-oriented role, and it's up to you to make connections happen.
5. Go beyond your comfort zone.
Although I initially stayed within my industry when looking for and making connections, I realized it was more beneficial to see how those within related industries might benefit from my ability to put the right people in front of each other.
As I learned more about relevant business segments and those farther outside of my comfort zone, I was able to make some interesting connections that pushed those I knew beyond their comfort zones, too. The result was that they were able to expand their businesses into new industries through these relationships.
6. Optimize your time.
Already busy with my own ventures, I have to be thoughtful about how much time I spend on being a connector.
Although it does deliver direct and indirect benefits for me, the role of connector is still a side hustle. Allot a certain amount of time to the role and appreciate that those who you are connecting with may also have hectic schedules and limited time.
When you’re involved in making connections, be as specific as possible about the value it creates so no one's time is wasted—including your own.
7. Always look for connections.
Being a connector is an ongoing role. I am always on the lookout for other people to connect. A conversation on a plane or a hackathon presentation could lead to the next connection.
Essentially, the role of a connector is a curation process. It involves collecting information of interest that others might benefit from and then sharing that information.
Recently, I connected a member of my content team with another media entrepreneur who was scaling up and needed more talent. Additionally, an industry conference I regularly participate in was searching for new speakers that could add a fresh perspective. I knew a few startup founders I had worked with would be ideal for this gap in the agenda.
I also connected a nonprofit, where I sit on board, with a social media specialist who has elevated their strategy and created more engagement with donors.
These situations are nearly everyday opportunities. They give me a chance to continually sift through my connections and network to see who might be a good match. While it doesn't always happen, I believe it's important to keep observing, listening and connecting with others both offline and online.
8. Enjoy it.
I never lose sight of the satisfaction that I'm a part of something much bigger than myself. This enjoyment comes from the knowledge that you are helping other people propel their businesses forward or finding the right partners to make the next disruptive idea into a viable product or service.
In the process of making connections, connectors become happier, motivated and inspired. That's the best feeling!
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