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How to become a connector and leverage the hell out of your network

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If you have read Malcom Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point , you know that he identifies people by placing them into three categories: connectors, mavens, and salesmen. For the purposes of this post I want to focus on connectors. For a description of each of these categories, check out my previous review of the Tipping Point. Connectors in particular interested me because of the power and influence they seem to have on life in general. As Gladwell said “connectors are very special people.” They are the the bridge between most people and as a result have a really strong ability to influence the world the way they see fit. When you are a connector, you just inherently know how to get free drinks and get treated like a VIP everywhere you go. While you might not be in the connector category, like anything else in life it’s possible to become a connector.

5 TIPS FOR BECOMING A CONNECTOR

Talk to lots of people: First and foremost, in order to be a connector you really have to talk to lots of people. This means getting rid of your social inhibitions. I talk to people even if I’m line at Starbucks. It doesn’t mean you get into deep meaningful conversations with everybody, but by talking to lots of people you get into the habit of being a very social person. To give you an example, I talk to many surfers when I’m in the water. A few weeks back I met two who worked in visual effects. When we were surfing together, I introduced them. It turns out one of them had bid on a project at the other ones company, but they didn’t know each other. As a result I served as a connector.

Be friendly/Have good energy: This should be a no brainer. People are drawn to happy people with good energy. There’s something really infectious about it. You communicate with your energy much more than you do with your words. If you want to be a connector, people have to like you, and good energy is a guaranteed way to ensure that.

Give instead of get: One of the biggest networking mistakes people seem to make is trying to get something from everybody they meet. I know I’ve made that mistake in the past and Keith Ferrazi even refers to this type of person as “The Networking Jerk.” This is a person who has no genuine interest in the people they are talking to and you can almost feel as though they are looking for somebody more important to talk to. There’s a law of reciprocation where people feel that they should help people who help them, so you’re definitely better off giving instead of trying to get. Part of the reason I was able to master getting free drinks at certain places, is because I would bring crowds with me. But you should always make sure you give with no expectation of anything in return.

Meet lots of people: In the past I’ve given you a list of 10 different ways to meet more people. Meeting lots of people is obviously essential to becoming a connector. One thing I think you should keep in mind when meeting people is letting go of your judgment. Meet people regardless of age, race, color, or sex. Sometimes you think you may have nothing in common with a guy who’s 75 years old and for all you know he could be some millionaire investor who’s looking for a protege. Once at a hotel bar I was talking to an older guy from the south, who it turned out was a big real estate investor and seemed interested in helping me.

Join organizations/Volunteer: With the internet and the amount of information that is out there, there are tons of organizations/groups you can join. Meetup.com is full of different groups that include sports, professional groups, and cultural groups. Brian Tracy made a really interesting point about volunteer work. He noted that by volunteering at his local chamber of commerce he got connected to some highly influential people and every time his network of contacts doubled, his income doubled. If that’s not motivation to become a connector, I don’t know what is.

Anybody can become a connector. In fact if I could go back to business school, I would focus my efforts on becoming an extremely powerful connector, rather than trying to find a job or get good grades. The ROI on becoming a connector is much higher.

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