It's not what you know, but who you know.
We’ve all heard the saying. The idea that the people with the most connections are the most powerful people within a sphere has been a fundamental truth in business and life for some time now. Yet, how many of us work as hard at building and maintaining our social networks as hard as we do at building our skills, competencies and knowledge base?
Well, the truth is that most of us don’t. That is except ‘Super Connectors’.
About six months ago, I changed my LinkedIn headline to include the term ‘Parking Industry Super Connector’. I changed my headline not because I was doing anything different in my business, but because I wanted to highlight a key value of working with me - the value of my network and the value of the connections I can make for those in my network.
When I refer to myself as a super connector, I’m not just describing myself as a recruiter. I’m describing my more general ability and track record to connect my network with opportunities and other individuals who share ideas and have common goals. With one of the largest networks in the parking industry, I have a good gauge of who is open to what opportunity, job, partnership, acquisition or merger.
So what are super connectors?
Super connectors are the “people to know” in your industry or niche. They are the movers and shakers with the network that allows them to make things happen with a single call. They’re the people making high-level connections, disrupting entire industries in one fell swoop.
Super connectors can do this as they are experts in their domain and can produce something of value for their connections, be it an introduction or a snip it of valuable information. For all these reasons, super connectors have great value.
Many of us associate super connectors with certain professions such as headhunters, politicians, fundraisers, and journalists, who as a part of their job are in constant interaction with people. However, super connectors can be found everywhere, in every profession and in every industry. And becoming one can mean great things for everyone’s career, including your own.
Why becoming a super connector can help your career
Sometimes the career implications of working as a super connector aren’t immediately apparent. Realize though, through your super-connecting activities you are building up a loyal network of people who not only owe you favors but are excited to help you grow in your profession the same way you helped them.
Being a true super connector requires the sincere desire to help your network and connect people with each other who can benefit from the connection, sometimes with no direct or immediate benefit for yourself. Through this, you will be building genuine relationships with those within your network, and while it may be some time down the road, you will see the benefits from such real relationships for years to come.
How do you become a super connector?
One of the major misconceptions people have about super connectors is that it is easy to be one. But that is not the case. In reality, it is very difficult to become a super connector because it requires the person to have the ability to understand another person's needs only after a brief conversation. But with a little practice and by following these tips, you can start your super connecting journey.
1. Take notes. A true super connector always carries a notebook with them, be it paper or electronic. Super connectors write or type things down to make sure they remember the important information. When connecting with thousands of individuals, even the most basic information is easy to forget without the proper reminders.
While most people focus on just getting a new contact’s phone number and email address, as a super connector you should also make detailed notes that include:
How you met
Where you met
What you talked about
Type of projects the person is working on
Interests and issues important to them
Type of connections or information that would be useful
Follow up action on your behalf
2. Share something of value. It’s all about paying it forward. If you find a blog or article you know someone in your network would love, send it along. Remember those notes you are taking? Well, use those tidbits of knowledge so you can always be on the lookout for information to share. Sending along fascinating or relevant information can refresh relationships and through sharing something of value, you will bring yourself front of mind to your network.
3. Make time. Interaction with your connections is the key to staying connected. People who are super connectors never eat lunch alone; they find someone to eat with. Networking doesn’t have to be done only at events and conferences – though these are great opportunities to expand your network or reconnect with existing relationships.
Making time for your connections can be as simple as meeting up with someone for coffee who works near you instead of going alone. Don’t underestimate the productivity and effectiveness of a 15-minute chat – new opportunities can arise from even the briefest of meetings. By making time, you will be remembered.
Super connecting is about a win-win for all parties.
But don’t ever confuse the end game of super connecting. The main purpose of being a super connector isn’t about getting enough goodwill to be able to call in favors in the future. It is about offering mutual value, so everybody wins in the long run.