Update from the author: we’ve updated the product information, and networking strategies to be current for 2023.
There are many approaches to networking and many level of networking proficiency you can attain. What drives network? Typically, people look for mutually-beneficial arrangements with they foster over time. These relationships are built on a foundation of authenticity and continually add value to one another from within.
Another driver of networking is puts primary focus on what they can offer to people. What many soon find is that bringing people in their network together is one of the most rewarding and enjoyable parts of networking. Every new contact, regardless of background, can become a potential candidate for connection with someone else. Those who focus on building connections within their existing network – people connectors – drop all other approaches and focus solely on introducing people up with one another. By doing so, their networks are more cohesive, well-connected, and valuable.
These people are the superconnectors; a branch of master networkers who take their skills to the next level and create meaningful relationships. These relationships are not just not just between themselves and their network but between those within it too.
What is a Connector of People?
There are many ways to go about networking, and no single method is a catch-all. People will make use of a variety of networking strategies and platforms to reach their goals, and even the specific networking goals themselves can vary.
A connector of people is a networking goal that takes a slightly different approach and leverages the indirect returns on networking efforts. Before we go into detail, let’s take a look at the basic principles of networking.
Networking functions as a sort of reciprocal series of interactions, in which people find and form meaningful, beneficial relationships with one another. Again, there are many ways to do this, and there are also numerous ways in which the relationships can be beneficial. The ultimate goal of networking is to advance your professional standing in the industry of your choice, which means that these benefits can come in a variety of forms. To name a few:
Job offers – knowing when your desired position is opening up in advance can get you time to prepare, and having someone you know put in a good word for you before the interview can’t help.
Mentorships – if you’re learning the ropes, a good network can provide opportunities to find a mentor; someone to guide you as you enter the working world.
Industry insights – whether you’re new, already established, or looking to change direction, your network can provide you with educational insights into the industry you’re choosing.
Therefore, building a network is a means to any or more of these ends. This is where the reciprocation comes in. In order for the people in your network to be happy and willing to provide you with these opportunities, you will need to be adding value to their lives too.
In order to get the most out of people in a network, a person needs to be trusted, highly regarded, able to offer value, and ultimately have a good reputation. This is also done in several ways, but it usually begins with:
Imparting industry experience – You, too, might have valuable insights into the industry you’re networking in. These are as valuable to your network as theirs are to you.
Shared positive experience – Any event that creates a positive experience is valuable. These can come in many forms, some as simple as just listening to the troubles of someone in your network.
Connecting people - Even if your network is filled with people who have little to offer you directly, you hold the power to bring like-minded people together. Becoming a connector of people is one way to significantly boost the power of yours and other people’s networks.
So, a connector of people is someone who creates value to their network by bringing members together into valuable connections of their own. If you’re wondering how this comes back to you, well, connecting people is all about making a name for yourself. A connector is someone who is relationship-focused on their approach to networking, and this builds trust and credibility to their reputation.
As you facilitate powerful connections, you’ll become a memorable contributor to the success of others, cementing yourself as a trusted and valuable individual. From this position, your professional world opens itself to numerous opportunities.
So, what is a connector supposed to do to get promoted around here? Connecting people builds your reputation as someone to consider when opportunities arise. This comes with all of the value benefits listed above, and more. And going from a people connector to a super connector takes building on these foundations to reach new levels.
What is a Super Connector?
The simple difference between a connector and a superconnector comes down to scale. If you’re good at it, your network of connections will expand, potentially into the thousands, and you’ll be managing a network of people from all fields, all over the world. This should make it a simple task to connect like-minded individuals and create huge value by combining very unique and complementary viewpoints.
As you become someone to look for when in need, you will be continuously providing for your network and your reputation will precede you in more than one industry. As such, people will opportunities will seek you out, and you’ll soon be on the receiving end of value from people you’ve never even met yet.
But it’s not the size of the network that sets a superconnector out from a connector of people; in fact, the size isn’t as important as the quality of the connections. This quality comes from how well you know the people you’re connecting, and how well they will fit with the people you want to connect them to.
A big part of this is in the diversity of your network. Different experiences create different perspectives, and sometimes the most unlikely pairings facilitate the most unique and valuable ideas. This is the strength of a super connector: they have the ability to pull in expertise from countless points of contact, across many different disciplines.
The major benefits of connecting people are, then, enhanced when you become a super connector, and there are many approaches and platforms that facilitate this. Once your network starts growing, you’ll need a smart and efficient way to manage it, and we’ll go into that very soon, but first, you’ll probably want to know how to begin as a connector, or if you’re already full swing, how to boost your status.
How to Become a Superconnector on LinkedIn and other Platforms
If you’re starting from scratch, it’s important to learn the thorough basics of networking, and devise a plan and a strategy based on the goals you want to accomplish. If you’ve already begun your networking journey and know more or less what it’s about, then it’s time to ramp things up a bit and leverage the platforms available to you.
By far the most vast and diverse network is available online. Your two major online platforms are probably going to be LinkedIn and Facebook, and likely in that order. Before we focus on those, it’s worth giving a shoutout to smaller, emerging platforms like XING and Run the World. Have a look for more of these, especially if you want to branch out into smaller, more niche networks.
Now, onto the big 2. For LinkedIn, there are the same basic principles of any networking platform: reach out, make connections, add value to these connections with tailored content, and, when appropriate, suggest that they connect with someone that might be valuable to them.
There is one thing in particular though, that can be useful on LinkedIn. A LinkedIn LION is the name given to someone on LinkedIn who accepts connections from everyone. This stands for LinkedIn Open Networker, and it’s a new strategy many are employing to become superconnectors.
To begin your path to becoming a LION, simply find one to connect to. Connecting with these people opens up their network to you, and from there, you can start expanding. The gist of it is simply to build your network towards the LinkedIn connection cap of 30,000. There are lists available online to get you started, just make sure to introduce yourself and genuinely form the connection!
For Facebook, the process is similar, but you’ll have the added benefits of starting and joining niche groups of almost every kind. On Facebook, you can find professionals in personal spaces, and form more organic connections as a result.
While LinkedIn makes connecting with people very effective, Facebook is a great place for connecting people to one another. It also offers a wide range of integrations with other platforms, particularly ones it owns, like Instagram.
Both platforms allow you to cast a pretty wide net and access people with valuable content of various kinds. They’re also strong for a variety of networking goals. Whether you’re ultimately looking to find customers for your B2B startup or building your reputation to lofty heights to get into your target C-suite position.
While becoming a LinkedIn LION will grow your network size significantly, it’s important to remember that quality is more important than quantity, and numbers for the sake of it won’t make you a master networker.
Making use of both is a good place to start, and add in others as you get going. From there, it’s a matter of working your networking magic.
Superconnector Best Practices
Whichever platform you choose, there are some basic principles that apply to all networking efforts that you should sincerely follow. Many of these apply to all forms of networking, whether you’re connecting or not, but some are particularly important to master if you want to take your networking up a notch. Here are some suggestions:
- It’s always better to meet in person where possible, but of course, as a super connector, you won’t have time for lunch dates with 30,000 people a year. Network in the physical world where possible, but manage your contacts primarily online.
- Your network should at least be populated by people whose names you can remember. If this is a daunting task, put the time in to practice; you’ll be a lot better off as a networker in general if you’re good at remembering names.
- Your role as a connector is to relay information. This is the essence of connecting people. So, while networking, gather as much information about a person as possible and keep track of it! Whether it’s relevant to you or not doesn’t matter – you’ll be able to link it to someone else in the future.
- Always have a value-adding mindset. When you’re meeting with people, think less about how they might be able to help you, and concentrate on what you know that can help them. This is how you’ll adjust your sights to creating meaning in people’s lives, and ultimately benefit from the networking efforts you’re putting in.
- Know when to reach out. For maintaining your network, you’ve got to learn timing. Contacts need to be kept warm, and this in itself isn’t such a tricky job. All you need to do it get your timings right and make sure to reach out.
- You don’t need to be extroverted to become a connector. On the contrary, introverted people often make the best connectors, as they’re less prone to take the stage. There should be no issue that you face in networking that relates to how extroverted or introverted you are.
- Remain unfocused on your personal gain. While networking of every form is a means to an end, the less attention you pay to your own value extraction as a connector, the better. Your altruism will be the power that pulls in your rewards in the form of the opportunities that will reveal themselves to you with time.
So, for initial contacts, you need to know how to break the ice, to keep your audience engaged, and to nurture relationships to keep them warm. A connector has these principles down. A super connector takes them to the next level.
How to Manage your Network as a Super Connector
Without help, this network is simply unmanageable at the scales a super connector is dealing with. There could be thousands of people across hundreds of companies and multiple industries, all of whom need to be maintained and kept warm. This may sound like a full-time job, but for most established contacts, contact will only involve reaching out a couple times a year.
Maintaining a vast network is about quality over quantity, so brief moments of adding value are better than numerous wasteful and time-consuming sessions. There are many ways to do this, and checking in with your connection is the foundation of all of them.
It’s important to be organized, and it’s going to save you a lot of time down the line if you begin this process of organization early on in your networking attempts. One of the best ways to keep your networks organized is by using a CRM, or contact relationships manager, and this can be employed to handle significant networks but is equally capable and useful with smaller groups of people too.
Dex integrates with your LinkedIn and other sources to help keep all your contacts in one place. It also facilitates your basic networking efforts by letting you know when your connections change their LinkedIn titles, prompting you to reach out. It also allows you to set reminders on bespoke timeframes for each contact, allowing you to pick up the conversation where you left off and keep the connection warm until you find the right connection for them.
Ultimately, though, managing your network as a connector is about remembering that networking is bigger than your own immediate gain. It’s about connecting people to others and igniting ideas, spreading concepts, and forming alliances.
The benefits of managing such a network come indirectly, from the lessons you learn and the people who seek you out. The most important thing to remember is that a master networker is one who builds a reputation for being trusted and respected in making and maintaining connections, and to reach super status, this has to include the connections you make between others too.
Becoming a master networker requires more than simply taking names. The value that you add to your network is directly related to its quality. By taking a role as a connector, you’ll possess a very special and powerful way of creating that value.
Building up a network involves numerous branches of outreach and various strategies. Connecting people is one of the simplest and most effective. From there, you’ll be learning how to read people, identify their important characteristics and quickly spot how you’ll be able to help them.
Networking and connecting people is a learnable skill. With time and mastery, of this new skill, your reputation as a super connector is bound to grow, bringing a whole host of benefits.