Have you ever met someone who takes genuine pleasure in connecting people? Someone who intuitively understands how to build relationships that benefit all parties?
These people are superconnectors, and my late friend Cecilia was one of the best.
Not everyone is born with her gift for connecting people. It is still possible, though, for you to develop and hone your own superconnector skills. Above all, you must transform your mindset.
Superconnectors don’t approach networking from the perspective of “what’s in it for me.” Instead, they ask “how can I help other people I meet along the way?”
Regular networkers attend events trying to meet as many people as possible. They exchange contact information and look for opportunities that would benefit their organizations. This is the model that networkers have followed for years, even in this new age of virtual events. While it yields some positive results, it can become tiresome. As a result, people grow to dread attending such events. Nobody enjoys being repeatedly approached by new people who want something from them. You know those cold calls on your mobile device that you answer thinking you know the person? Next thing you know you are getting pitched by a complete stranger. Ew.
Superconnectors approach such gatherings with a completely different mindset. Their goal isn’t to meet as many people as possible – it’s to help and connect as many people as possible. When they meet someone new, their first thought isn’t “how can this person be of use to me?” It’s “how can I be helpful to this person?” It might be as simple as recommending a pet-sitter or a Pilates studio. It might involve introducing the individual to someone else from your network. Whatever it involves, the other person is better off because they met you.
As you work on transforming your mindset, here are a few practical tips on how to become a super connector:
(1) Stop thinking of your contacts as one-dimensional job titles.
Mary Smith might be the CEO of an accounting firm, but she’s also a Corgi fanatic, an amateur baker, and a hiker. David Perkins might be the Marketing Director at a big hotel, but he also loves mixology and travel.
(2) Hone your listening skills.
To learn about new facets of a person’s life, you need to listen to them with intent. Observe what topics make them sparkle with enthusiasm. Don't approach people with a mental list of questions to ask them. Instead, watch for when they light up and inquire deeper into their topics of interest. Curiosity can be your friend in these moments.
(3) Follow through on your promises.
If you promise to introduce somebody to another contact by e-mail or social media, do so. Whenever possible, do it later that same day or first thing the following morning. If you promise to send someone the link to a specific product, do so on your commute home (unless you’re the one driving). You want people to think of you as helpful and reliable, not as another person who never followed up.
(4) Revolutionize the way you introduce people.
Doing so will help reinforce that your primary goal is to help people. Deeper introductions can make you more helpful to others. Consider the following three options for introducing the same two people:
- “Mary Smith, meet David Perkins.” All you’ve done is give the names, leaving everything else up to the individuals. This example may sound ridiculous, but I’ve seen it happen many times.
- “Mary Smith, meet David Perkins. Mary is the CEO at an accounting firm. David is the Marketing Director at a hotel.” It’s the verbal version of exchanging business cards. Yawn.
- “Mary Smith, meet David Perkins. Mary is the CEO at an accounting firm and David is the Marketing Director at a hotel. I want to introduce you two because Mary has booked a hiking trip to Iceland. David returned from his fifth trip to Iceland two weeks ago. Also, David, didn’t you tell me that your kids have been begging you to get them a Corgi? Mary’s a long-time Corgi owner.” When you walk away, the other two individuals are already in a conversation of interest to both of them. Each person feels much more connected to the other person than if you had stopped at their job titles.
My superconnector friend Cecilia did just this kind of thing. It seems she did it every single day of her adult life. We met at an event and before an hour passed, she had invited me to join a monthly dinner group. These people were (and still are) amazing professionals she had dubbed Phenomenal Women. She nurtured that group for something like 20 years. The friendships woven through that simple act are prominent in the tapestry of my life.
Superconnectors enrich the lives of those they meet. The joy they derive from so doing makes their own journey richer. I encourage you to give it a try. Live well. Do well. Be well.
All my best,