In a world where many physically recoil at the sound of “networking,” it’s clear many modern-day professionals are in search of a more suitable term.
As my closet family and friends will attest, there is plenty I’m not good at, but being a connector is one of the few things I’ve been able to build into a strength over time.
If you’re looking to build your network (in a nonsleazy way), here are 7 habits of highly effective connectors. Hat tip to the wonderful book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People for providing a foundation for this post.
They Play They Long Game
One of the many reasons “networking” gets such a bad rap, is it has historically been associated with those who are only looking for short term gains.
That person who hands you their business card at an event, followups just a day later pushing for a sale.
Effective connectors know that a strong network is only as good as the strength of their relationships. Connectors think in terms of years, sometimes even decades, not months.
Making an introduction now can not only help in the short term, but it often builds long term goodwill as well.
Not every connection, relationship, or partnership is going to work out, but that doesn’t prevent the active connector from putting their best foot forward.
A good connector knows that not all seeds planted will sprout, but the few that do will make the world a more vibrant and fuller place.
They build relationships knowing that in the grand scheme of things, their efforts will pay off even though it may take a while.
They Give Without Expectation
Effective connectors know that doing a favor now in hopes of a favor in return was never a favor at all.
You’re not fooling anyone when your end goal is to get your back scratched in return.
Yes, it’s human nature to want your efforts and help to be reciprocated, and in many cases, it will, but that should never be the goal.
Giving without expectation doesn’t mean you’re a pushover, or you don’t take care of yourself first.
The best ‘super connectors’ in the world get there from giving value first and without expectation.
Not everyone will appreciate your efforts, nor should you expect them too. Connectors get joy and satisfaction of helping those they can help, and anything beyond that is just a bonus.
Don’t be the person who gives only when they need something if becoming a connector is your goal.
They Are Always Searching For Ways To Help
Effective connectors view the world in an entirely different way.
Their mind is always searching for ways to help. Of course, being a connector doesn’t make you immune to natural human desires and wants, but most of the day, they spend looking for ways to be helpful.
“I’m looking for a job in tech…”
“I know just the person…”
“Can anyone give me feedback on this blog post before it goes live?”
“What are some of the best cities for building a startup?”
“I’ve heard Austin is great, I know two people who live there, happy to make an intro.
It’s never been easier to add value to those in your community. It’s never been easier to add value to your coworkers, family, and friends.
When you begin searching for ways to help regularly, you’ll be incredibly surprised at how many opportunities there are.
Connectors are happy with their day when they’ve played a small part in helping others move closer to their goals.
Anyone can become a ‘connector’ if they invest the time to find ways to be of service.
They Keep Their Word
Effective connectors know that keeping their word matters. They don’t make promises they have no intention of keeping.
If they drop the ball, they take full responsibility. Life happens.
They follow through; they do what they say.
They don’t view people as a means to an end. Every relationship, every partnership matters. They know that by keeping their word, they can stand out in a world seemingly defaults to being a flake.
That intro they promised? It happens.
That feedback they agreed to share? They share it.
They don’t cancel a Zoom call 3 times in a row.
Think about those who you consider a good ‘connector,’ and chances are they virtually always keep their word.
They Leverage Technology To Build Relationships
Active connectors know that technology can be used to help add value to the world.
They scan Twitter for opportunities to help.
They set reminders to followup and follow through.
They leverage technology to help grow their social circle while adding value in the process.
Anyone with an internet connection can work to become a connector. It’s never been easier for the up and coming to add value to those who have ‘made it.’
They leverage technology for good, not to spam, or lose the personal touch.
Technology helps scale what used to be unscalable.
You can’t talk to everyone in your network every day, but you can send a quick text or email to genuinely extend a hand.
You don’t need the latest CRM to be an effective connector; you just need a passion for helping those you can.
They Are Always Learning
Effective connectors don’t let their ‘massive network’ go to their head. They know that there are lessons to be learned by everyone they meet.
They are curious. They are interested. They want to learn the story and fire of everyone they meet.
Effective connectors are eager to help, not only because it feels good to help others, but they can learn and grow as well.
Every relationship or connection they build is yet another source of knowledge, a source that can pay dividends for years.
They go into every meeting and event looking to learn and improve themselves.
They Have A Passion For People
Perhaps the most important quality of an effective connector is their passion for people.
To true connectors, people aren’t just a number or a sale. They aren’t a means to an end.
Every super-connector I’ve ever met, loves people first and for most.
Very little brings them more joy than hearing a story of how their efforts helped enhance the lives of those they helped.
Effective connectors know that people change, and they excel at the challenge of understanding their relationships that are never stagnant.
You can’t become a world-class connector if you don’t have a genuine joy for the people you connect with.
A passion for people is a must.
If you’re looking to grow your network and deepen your personal and professional relationships, I hope you found this blog post useful.