This is a guest post from my dear friend Michael Roderick.
You want to be a Connector.
Doing the work that I do, I get invited to a number of networking meetings and events and most of the time I meet a lot of networkers. I stopped going to most of these events and meetings because, over the course of my career I learned that I didn’twant to be a networker, I preferred to be a connector. Many people pay thousands of dollars to be in these groups and if they are lucky they have a few true connectors in them, but more than likely the majority of the room is networkers. So what is the difference?
Networkers connect on a horizontal and connectors connect on a vertical. A networker usually makes introductions to people on the same level or lower to whoever they are “networking” with. So they may send a business referral, but if they do it’s often something small or at the same level as the person they are interacting with. In a worst case scenario, they refer someone who isn’t pre-qualified in order to satisfy a quota for one of the groups they are in and you end up taking a meeting with someone who has no idea that you have a service you provide. Connectors recognize both the people above and the people below. A really good connector will think carefully of who in their world could 10x your business or who could give you amazing advice. They care more about quality than quantity and will always ask specific and pointed questions to send you the absolute best people and really help you succeed. Connectors love putting the haves with the have-not’s.
Networkers are focused on transactions and connectors are focused on gifts. A networker seeks reciprocity everywhere they go. They usually open any meeting with a question about how your business works and what good referrals are and then they proceed to do the same. Then the conversation often ends and they feel like they have done their job. They tick a box and then assess whether or not you send good stuff their way. Connectorsdon’t seek out reciprocity, it finds them. This is because a connector will ask you about what your goals are and what youbelieve in. They want to know why you do what you do and what will make you more successful. They will let you know about their business, but they will often offer a gift as opposed to trade referrals. Gifts are given without the expectation of return and they build credibility faster than anything else. They pay attention to who in their world is sending them business, but they don’t see it as a trade and they recognize that in some cases things will come back to them, but the universe is on its own timeline. As a result of this, people start to on their own offer them gifts and opportunities completely unbidden.
Networkers take business meetings and force themselves to talk personal and connectors get together with youand talk very little about business. Networkers are there to give their sixty-second pitch and wait dutifully for yours. They may ask you about your family or hobbies, but it often sounds forced.You can often see an anxious look in their eyes as they do so because they are really just trying to get their pitch in front of youand see if you can help them find clients. Connectors never pitch; they recognize genuine inquiry and follow through on it. A true connector will talk to you about you. Theywant to know your background, your origin story, what excites youabout your work, etc. They mention their work and they see howyou react. If you ask them to tell you more eagerly, they do. If they see you’re not interested in what they do, they move on very quickly. You will never feel pitched when meeting with a connector, but you’ll probably buy from them or someone they know.
Networkers have scripts and connectors live in the moment. You’ll know a networker the second you sit down with them because they’ll use canned phrases that they learned at a networking meeting. They will often say word for word something they saw in a book or in an article. Their pitch will be the same way. It will sound truly rehearsed with as much flowery language as possible. Connectors are always experimenting with how they explain what they do. They also know all of the canned phrases that are out there, but they put their own spin on it or come up with their own way of saying it. They let the conversation go where it goes and you’ll never feel like they are reading from a manual because they are too busy engaging with you and asking really good questions.
Networkers stay close to home while connectors explore. If you meet a networker, they usually belong to a group and you will meet a ton of people from their group. They will rarely introduce you to anyone outside of that group because they have developed a loyalty to those people. The events they inviteyou to will be events run by members of the group and rarely will they introduce you to anyone who is not in that circle. Connectors live in hundreds of different worlds and industries and are naturally curious. They are always meeting different groups and organizations and are happy to introduce you to any one in those worlds. They often touch multiple industries and over the course of a single day could be meeting with a billionaire philanthropist, a circus performer, a doctor, and an app developer.
When you start out in business, there will be many people pushing youto be a “power networker” and you’ll see all kinds of books and talks on the topic. Having been in presence of some of these “powernetworkers” I have to say this:
There is far more power in connecting than networking.
Use that power.
The world needs more connectors.
Are you a connector?
If you are, or if you hope to be, I look forward to seeing you in a few weeks at ConnectorCon 2015.
The reason I produce this event every year is that I love seeing amazing people meet one another and help one another. All too often, conferences are more about the people speaking than they are about the participants. The focus of ConnectorCon is on you.
My goal is introducing you to people with different backgrounds and experiences so that you can identify new opportunities, partnerships, and friendships that will carry into 2016. I hope you'll apply to attend ConnectorCon today.