Recently at a networking event, someone introduced himself as a Connector. He explained that his role is to connect people to organizations or groups with a common interest. Isn’t that interesting? Having someone who can remove the barrier to networking and make introductions takes the fear out of meeting strangers for the first time.
For Millennials who get sweaty palms just thinking about going to an event where you know no one and walking around introducing yourself, this is the perfect solution! Many of you find the concept of in-person networking terrifying. The part that is scary is getting started. So if someone could initiate the first step, wouldn’t it feel less intimidating to go to a networking event?
So often the easy go-to is to not call or meet in person, to first text or chat online. But the meaningful connections — the ones that will land you a job and get you promoted? Those are in-person and the skill of not only being able to meet people, but help others first is one that will make a huge difference today.
Feeling skeptical? It is understandable. Nothing in college really prepares you for the reality of interfacing with people. In fact if you took online classes or rarely interacted with people in class, you may be feeling totally overwhelmed with the idea of knowing what to do.
If you are thinking, yeah but I’m an introvert so that’s why I don’t go meet people, you need to shift that mindset. It might surprise you that both introverts and extraverts can be connectors. In fact, introverts can make powerful introductions at an event because all their energy is channeled in the moment. Whether you feel totally at ease meeting strangers or have to be mentally up for it, learning how to be your own connector is one of the best ways to move the needle forward in your career.
So how do you know if you have what it takes to be a Connector or even what that means? In Malcom Gladwell’s book “The Tipping Point” he offers a simple test to figure out where you might land in the spectrum of networking.
Gladwell says, “There is a simple way to show this. In the paragraph below is a list of around 250 surnames, all taken at random from the Manhattan phone book. Go down the list and give yourself a point every time you see a surname that is shared by someone you know.”
Read this list of names.
Algazi, Alvarez, Alpern, Ametrano, Andrews, Aran, Arnstein, Ashford, Bailey Ballout, Bamberger, Baptista, Barr, Barrows, Baskerville, Bassiri, Bell, Bokgese, Brandao, Bravo, Brooke, Brightman, Billy, Blau, Bohen, Bohn, Borsuk, Brendle, Butler, Calle, Cantwell, Carrell, Chinlund, Cirker, Cohen, Collas, Couch, Callegher, Calcaterra, Cook, Carey, Cassell, Chen, Chung, Clarke, Cohn, Carton, Crowley, Curbelo, Dellamanna, Diaz, Dirar, Duncan, Dagostino, Delakas, Dillon, Donaghey, Daly, Dawson, Edery, Ellis, Elliott, Eastman, Easton, Famous, Fermin, Fialco, Finklestein, Farber, Falkin, Feinman, Friedman, Gardner, Gelpi, Glascock, Grandfield, Greenbaum Greenwood, Gruber, Garil, Goff, Gladwell, Greenup, Gannon, Ganshaw, Garcia, Gennis, Gerard, Gericke, Gilbert, Glassman, Glazer, Gomendio, Gonzalez, Greenstein, Guglielmo, Gurman, Haberkorn, Hoskins, Hussein, Hamm, Hardwick, Harrell, Hauptman, Hawkins, Henderson, Hayman, Hibara, Hehmann, Herbst, Hedges, Hogan, Hoffman, Horowitz, Hsu, Huber, Ikiz, Jaroschy, Johann, Jacobs, Jara, Johnson, Kassel, Keegan, Kuroda, Kavanau, Keller, Kevill, Kiew, Kimbrough, Kline, Kossoff, Kotzitzky, Kahn, Kiesler, Kosser, Korte, Leibowitz, Lin, Liu, Lowrance, Lundh, Laux, Leifer, Leung, Levine, Leiw, Lockwood, Logrono, Lohnes, Lowet, Laber, Leonardi, Marten, McLean, Michaels, Miranda, Moy, Marin, Muir, Murphy, Marodon, Matos, Mendoza, Muraki, Neck, Needham, Noboa, Null, O’Flynn, O’Neill, Orlowski, Perkins, Pieper, Pierre, Pons, Pruska, Paulino, Popper, Potter, Purpura, Palma, Perez, Portocarrero, Punwasi, Rader, Rankin, Ray, Reyes, Richardson, Ritter, Roos, Rose, Rosenfeld, Roth, Rutherford, Rustin, Ramos, Regan, Reisman, Renkert, Roberts, Rowan, Rene, Rosario, Rothbart, Saperstein, Schoenbrod, Schwed, Sears, Statosky, Sutphen, Sheehy, Silverton, Silverman, Silverstein, Sklar, Slotkin, Speros, Stollman, Sadowski, Schles, Shapiro, Sigdel, Snow, Spencer, Steinkol, Stewart, Stires, Stopnik, Stonehill, Tayss, Tilney, Temple, Torfield, Townsend, Trimpin, Turchin, Villa, Vasillov, Voda, Waring, Weber, Weinstein, Wang, Wegimont, Weed, Weishaus.
How many names do you know? In Gladwell’s test of 400 people only eight knew more than 90 names, and are therefore considered to be Connectors. Age, and the amount of time they worked played a part but not entirely. Some people just know a lot of people or as we say in Chicago – “I got a guy!” and those people have many connections that they use to refer friends and colleagues.
5 Quick Actions You Can Take To Be A Connector
- Think of the other person first. Ask questions, get to know them and think of people you know who share similar interests. If the person tells you “I love to run marathons,” think of someone else you know and say “that is so interesting, I should introduce you to ….who is also a fitness enthusiast”
- You have to work at it. This sounds so obvious, but people who spend 20 minutes a day building their network tend to know more people and in turn can make connections for others. Why is this important? Having connections enables you to offer to make introductions for others. The adage — it isn’t what you know it is who you know that counts — really is true. But, it takes time and practice!
- Actively seek out opportunities to meet people…in person. Whether in line at the store or at a social or professional event, you are always meeting people. Interacting with people online is easier but don’t let it be the only place you are speaking with people. Even if you invite someone for a virtual cup of coffee, it is better than relying only the written word like texting to communicate.
- Follow up. When you meet someone, ask if you can connect with them on LinkedIn and then…connect the same day. Even if you get home late from an event, even if you are busy. Sending the invitation immediately shows you are committed to being of value to this person
- Send an introduction email. If you met someone who might be a good connection for someone in your circle, send an intro email right away (notice a trend here?!) People appreciate when you initiate the conversation and make the introduction. You will be amazed how your network will grow and the two people will appreciate having you as one of their connections!
Time for Action! Commit to trying at least one of the steps above. Send me a note and let me know how it goes for you!
Originally posted on LinkedIN Pulse
Today’s tip! In addition to LinkedIn, check out a new app called Valor it can be found in iTunes < valor connect> is totally free. You can offer to connect people you know and start being a conduit for networking.