67% of everywomanNetwork members have told us they need to grow their professional networks both within and externally to their organisations.
In one of our most popular webinars everywoman’s regular contributor and expert in smarter networking Heather White examined the role of great connectors in expanding your network, explained what makes them like gold dust for filling in your gaps and why it’s so important to identify and keep close your connectors.
This six-point guide, inspired by Heather’s webinar, will help you super charge your career by forming relationships with the beating hearts of networks – the connectors.
Connectors are crucial people to have in your network
Of all the rewards that effective networking can bring to your career, establishing a relationship with a connector can be the most fruitful. A connector is simply a person within your network who loves to share contacts.
Their networks reach far and wide and are constantly expanding, and they love to show off their extensive database of experts and influencers by putting them in touch with people like you who need their skills. Connectors often seem to hear about things first; when things are changing and who needs to meet who. For these reasons they’re great people to reach out to – they can open doors to the people who will fill holes in your network, putting you in the right place with the right people at the right time.
Spotting a connector is easy when you know how
Identifying the connectors in a large and diverse network can be challenging. But connectors share certain characteristics that make them easy to spot in the crowd. Helping others is in the connector’s DNA, so in conversations they will frequently offer suggestions and names of others they can put you in touch with; natural problem solvers, they love nothing better than finding a solution to your challenge.
You will notice that connectors ask a lot of questions, though not necessarily in any great depth; connectors know a lot of people so they quickly look for the information they need to figure out how they can help; they’ll suss you out, trying to ‘get you’ so they can accurately file you away in their mental directory.
They’re often name droppers, casually mentioning numerous members of their large and eclectic networks. After learning how to identify connectors you will start to notice them among your network crowd and be able to reach out to them in a more effective way.
Your relationship with your connector is built on trust
Connectors love to help and make effective connections for others, and so their success is built and measured on fantastic, rewarding outcomes. It’s important your connector trusts you – they need to understand you and your motives and feel comfortable making introductions and connections on your behalf.
Being upfront about what you want from your connector (being very clear about the holes in your network and what type of person or skillset can fill them) is a great start; ask, and it is given.
Using your connectors for best rewards
If you’ve built trust with your connector and a great connection has been introduced to you, it’s important that you strike while the iron’s hot. Follow up any introductions immediately; your connector will know that you mean business and will feel the sense of satisfaction – of a successful connection well made - that a connector thrives on.
It’s important also to consider what you can give back to your connector. Connectors crave the connections of new experts and influencers – their ability to recommend, introduce and connect for others depends on it – and so connecting them to skillsets that might be lacking from their own network is the perfect way to reciprocate.
Consider that you yourself might be the expert or influencer they’re missing from their network, and so being clear upfront about who you are, what you offer and your unique point of difference is vital.
Are you a connector in the making?
While reading the above you may have started to identify the connectors around you but you may have also begun to notice certain connector traits in yourself.
If you think you have what it takes to become a great connector then Heather’s advice is to start slowly. Take the time to consider your own network, what and who is missing, and how you’re going to make authentic and valuable connections for others.
Be aware that being a connector takes times and comes with an element of risk (that’s why it’s so important that relationships with connectors are built on trust).
Next steps – five minute exercise
If you’re still struggling to identify a connector, make a list of the really valuable people within your network and consider how you were introduced. You might start to notice some common names or trends emerge which can set you on the path to discovering your connectors, moving you closer to a more fruitful and rewarding network.