How to Network Effectively and Become a Connector?
Author Malcolm Gladwell describes connectors in his book The Tipping Point:
What makes someone a Connector? The first — and most obvious — criterion is that Connectors know lots of people. They are the kinds of people who know everyone. All of us know someone like this. But I don’t think that we spend a lot of time thinking about the importance of these kinds of people. I’m not even sure that most of us really believe that the kind of person who knows everyone really knows everyone. But they do.
Connectors typically know a lot of people and make a regular practice of introducing their connections to others. They’re serve an incredibly important role in business, and becoming a connector can lead to extraordinary opportunities. In business, making introductions is one of the best ways to build a strong professional network. This article provides tips and advice on how to become a better connector.
Why you should connect people
1. Making introductions is a great way to be helpful to your contacts. Being helpful is a highly effective way to build a network. There are many ways to be helpful, but making introductions is often one of the best. If someone is in a relationship intensive business or role, they will greatly appreciate being connected to new people.
2. If you connect two people in your network and the do business or otherwise help each other, you benefit. All introductions should be beneficial to both parties. If the introduction benefits both parties, then both parties get stronger. When two parties in your network get stronger, your network gets stronger, and therefore you get stronger. Enhancing your existing network should be balanced with forming new relationships. When your network gets stronger thay me be in a better position to help you in the future.
3. Per the law of reciprocity, in response to helpful actions, people feel more inclined to be helpful in return. By making introductions first, you put yourself in position to receive more introductions.
Why people need to be introduced
There are many people in the world who would benefit from knowing each other, but haven’t yet been connected. Here are three main reason why connections need to be made:
1. There are a lot of people and companies in the world, and sometime people simply don’t have the research to know that the other is there. Sometimes people need help to identify others with compatible business interests.
2. People can be uncomfortable reaching out directly. Sometimes people know the person exists, but are uncomfortable reaching out on their own. Making an introduction helps otherwise avoid the uncomfortable act of reaching out cold.
3. People don’t always have as much time as they would like for making new connections. Building a strong professional network takes time and needs to be balanced with other responsibilities.
When it makes sense to introduce people
A good connector is always looking for opportunities to make mutually beneficial introductions. It’s best to have an understanding of a business problem someone is seeking to solve, or individuals they would like to connect with. Think strategically and creatively about who might make for a beneficial connection. Here are four common scenarios where a connection would be beneficial:
1. People who have shared interests and would benefit from trading notes, experiences, and expertise. For example, two entrepreneurs in the same industry or with the same distribution model may be able to be help each other.
2. People who have complementary supply and demand for a product or service. For example, if you know a company looking for accounting services, introduce them to an accounting firm that’s looking for new business.
3. People who are interested in meeting the same kinds of people, but are not competitive to each other. For example, a lawyer and a financial adviser may have referral opportunities.
4. A company who’s hiring and someone who’s qualified and seeking a new opportunity.
5. An investor who’s looking for investment opportunities and a great company that’s raising capital and meets the investor’s criteria.
How to make email introductions
1. Be sure you trust the people you’re connecting because it affects your reputation. If one person is not valuable to the other, or acts inappropriately, the other may be less inclined to accept future introductions or continue a relationship with you.
2. Ask both parties if they would like the introduction before making it. Ensure that you’re not encroaching on anyone’s time or privacy, or over-promising and under-delivering, by getting both people to opt in to the introduction.
3. When separately asking both parties if they would like to be connected, explain why it would be mutually beneficial. Share information about the people being introduced, including links to their company website, LinkedIn profile, and/or other relevant pages, and ask if they would like an introduction.
4. Don’t pressure either party to take the introduction. Simply explain why you think it might be beneficial, ensure that they don’t need to accept it, and ask if they would like the introduction.
5. If both people opt-in, send an email with both people copied briefly re-stating why they should connect.
What to do after making an introduction
Follow up with both people about a month after making the introduction, to remind them of the value you’ve added, to ensure that both parties were helpful to each other, and to re-connect with your contact if you haven’t spoken recently. Below is an example of a brief and simple email you could send to follow up.
How did your meeting with [person I introduced you to] go? I hope it went well!
Being a connector can help your career and business tremendously. Connecting with connectors can also be extremely valuable. I highly recommend being as proactive as possible about finding opportunities to make mutually beneficial introductions between people in your network.
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