Network Smart with the Connectors

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How best can we all network?
Every good networker is to know not to ask without giving first. And to try not to pour from an empty cup.
The truth is, the fundamental of networking is built on trade by barter, that is value for value (from surplus to deficit) and vice versa, good networkers know to not start at that middle ground but to give value first assuming there is none to receive. It’s a good state of mind to be in while networking. The truth is, you can get anything from anyone you so desire if you can first give them what they need.
Whenever you find a good event to network, do it right. A good networking event technically isn’t based on the number of high profile people but more on the number of connectors at the event. There are three important set of guys in any social circles, events and groups. They are the;
  • Mavens – Experts of the current discussion the audience in engaged in.
  • Sneezers – popular guys and
  • Connectors.

The connectors are more important than the high profile people. Chances that you are not a connector, for it’s a rare gift. Connectors are those select few extroverts, highly like-able with an extraordinary knack of making friends and acquaintances. Connectors are an elite group of people so expert in cultivating connections that they are the reason the rest of us are connected. If you can’t be one then have one always handy. It is advised to rather go for an event hosted by a connector (you have personal ties with).

It’s a false assumption that if you are thrown in a room of 100 Forbes Millionaires for 100 minutes that you’d get 100 complementary cards (talk less of having meaningful conversation afterwards that leads to deals).

Networking is grossly misunderstood. You can always track a good crowd if the ratio is 1: 10 (1 high profile connector per a crowd of 10). The point now will be on how you can find a connector per crowd (in this case to know how many connectors will be coming before you waste your time and resources to attend such function).

How to identify a connector?

So, to illustrate this, let’s play a game, mentally or with a pen and a pad make a list of 40 of your closest friends (family and colleagues excluded), then walk backwards to how you met them, trace the sources and see if there is a trend, asymmetric pattern of correlation, or frequency of some source,  see if your closest friends came from any frequent source. If so, then that common source is the connector!

Connectors are people who connect us to the world.

First of all, you rarely can network in any hall way more than 150 people (it’s actually a magic number, same way the human mind can’t exactly remember any numbers above 8 characters, why your phone lines ends up as that (the “080” doesn’t count). That’s why any wedding with more than that usually ends up in a jamboree.
In general, be friends or network mainly with connectors.  Networking with successful people is overrated especially when you don’t have tangible value to add to them. You just might end up either name dropping or running errands for them.  This is because highly Successful people are either known to not be   friendly , or for political motives, friendly but have few friends.
Keep a weak tie relationship with a lot of people but strong ties with connectors.
The best advice is to add value. Be busy with building yourself, art and price tag till you wake up morning and people want to network with you. Networking works more for people who seem to not have too much time for it.
In this world where everybody is screaming your network determines your net worth. I still think it is grossly over rated. In this generation of internet, you can become known without forcefully being present to be known. Just do your thing in your corner but plus the Internet to it and you’d sit and be called upon. There is already too much traffic and headache in Lagos traffic to be jumping from one event to the other all in the name of finding opportunity and networking.
Even generally,  we are more generally likely to get a big break from people we don’t know too deeply at the point when you connected. Most break through come from weak ties.
Weak ties make us powerful. The writer Gladwell points this out in one of his book. Inspired by the works of the sociologist Mark Granovetter, whose classic 1974 study, Getting a Job, surveyed 282 Boston workers and found that 56% got business deals/jobs through a personal connection. Of those connections, most were weak ties. Only 16.7% saw the contact often, 55.6% saw them occasionally, and 28% saw them rarely. Granovetter argues that when it comes to finding out new information/ opportunities  weak ties are more important than strong ties:
“Your friends, after all, occupy the same world that you do. They might work with you, or live near you, and go to the same churches, or parties. How much, then, would they know that you don’t know?”
Acquaintances are more likely to know something you don’t. They represent social power — and the more acquaintances you have, the more powerful you are.

Eizu, ©Hexavia!

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