What does it mean to be a connector or networker?
A connector links two or more things together. In networking, those two “things” are people. As a result, something else occurs—a good conversation, a new relationship, job, business partnership, etc.
Many of us view ourselves as connectors; uber-networkers who open up their networks to others. It’s a good thing to do, and more people should do it willingly. It’s the give-to-get mentality. But, let’s take a step back for a minute.
Are you someone who superficially connects others to look good? Or, are you someone who is genuinely interested in helping the other person?
Pause and consider your strategy. Are you adding value to the people you are introducing to one another? Is it mutually beneficial for BOTH people?
If not, rethink the introduction. If so, good job.
Now, I recognize it’s not possible to always create value and make sure there will be a direct result of every connection. There are no guarantees, but some will be better introductions than others.
One of our clients sends us former colleagues, clients, employees, friends who need help with their LinkedIn profile and potential job search. When that person ask about the fees, we tell them it’s been taken care of and they are quite grateful. Our client is a good person to know.
Here are 5 things I have gleaned from his generosity:
- He’s genuinely interested in the other person’s success and career
- He’s not looking to be known for the introduction or taking care of the “bill.”
- He keeps it simple. The introduction usually goes something like this:
“Colleen: do your magic.” No long intros, at all.
- He knows what we can do and never asks us to go beyond our expertise.
- The favor will be returned someday down the road.
Sometimes he’ll call me and give us a heads up on how we should consider framing this person’s LinkedIn profile. Often these folks are engineers or in manufacturing and their profiles need to dial into a new industry or type of position. His expertise helps us write a good profile, faster.
You might not be able to do this for people in your network, but get creative and think about how you can add value to all introductions.
- When you make an introduction, make it clear about what the expectation is and why you’re connecting the people.
- Whether in-person or on LinkedIn, make the connection as personal as possible, so it looks authentic and real and not just one more thing you are obliged to do.
- Rather than an immediate introduction, send them a link to the other person’s website. Often this is particularly helpful if they have a blog filled with great content and serves as a way to introduce them to the expertise before formally introducing them.
The better the introductions, the more you will be considered a center of influence. In the end, it’s more critical to be a center of influence in your network than someone who introduces people. Becoming a center of influence is the ultimate goal.
Here are 5 suggestions to becoming a center of influence:
- Master your channel. Where is your network? LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Outlook, Rolodex (say it isn’t so). Introduce people through your preferred channel. Do understand, the other person’s channels too.
- Know the people in your network. You need to know people to introduce them. A while back I wrote, “I Want to Know YOU Before Connecting” (insert http://i95business.com/2013/12/connecting/). Guess what? I still do.
- Let people know you are willing to help them and be proactive in doing so.
- Follow up and ask if it was a worthwhile introduction.
- Be consistent about staying in touch with the people in your network by asking them how they are and how you can help or serve them.
If you start here, you may find your connections are willing to create introductions for you, as well. It does begin with you, and you have the ability to influence far more than superficial introductions.
This post was originally published on Intero Advisory’s website in June 2016. Please note that LinkedIn is constantly changing. While it’s current now it may not be in the coming weeks or months.