I think strategic pro bono work is a hugely untapped resource for nonprofits, so I was delighted to recently learn about this tool. It’s certainly in a beta stage, but it has a lot of potential and already evident functionality.
What do you wish you knew about connecting?
Next month, I’ll be speaking at the Mark Leadership Conference at Rutgers University. I’ll be presenting my lecture How to be a Connector to students preparing to leave their ‘mark’ on the campus and the world.
How to Be a Connector
Nine months ago, I shared an article called Forget Networking. How to Be a Connector. Since then, I have developed and offered a class on just that. It’s been a popular class - surprisingly so - and I’ve learned a lot through teaching it. For instance:
- People have a hard time realizing their existing network.
- There’s genuine interest in developing stronger connections with people, but fear of going about it the ‘wrong’ way.
- It’s a tough sell on why you’d want to go out of your way to connect two people with each other, because people want to unveil the hidden agenda.
I’ve also fine-tuned my definition of a Connector, which I think was a huge self-learning for me in 2012. I didn’t previously parse out what exactly makes me a Connector, nor did I think about why it is an asset that I can leverage in my career or otherwise. Here’s how I define it:
A Connector is a person who…
- has lots of great people in their network
- naturally introduces members of their network to one another
- is socially fluent
- is known and respected in their communities
…and who uses that power to bring individuals in their network together constructively and with overall success.
This year, I have embraced this personality trait and run with it, and I’m proud to have connected people over ideas, shared interests, collaborative potential, accountability, research, and resources. I enjoy connecting good people, and am fortunate to have (or to create) many opportunities for doing so. It’s a science, an art, and an energizing delight.
Most exciting to me is that connecting people unleashes unlimited potential. I can’t wait to see what partnerships, conversation, and social change are sparked through catalytic connection; the power never stops!
Good TED talk highlighting how thoughtful connection with follow-through contributes to your reputation and ability to be trusted as is perceived by others. Definitely one of the arguments I make in my How to Be a Connector class for why being a Connector is a good thing.
Tell me about your personal product and/or favorite charitable cause.
I’d like to share both in posts to come in the near future. Just fill out this easy form! I can’t wait to hear about all of the great things that you do…
The more we love someone, the more that is on the line if that relationship were to fail. The more we let someone in to who we really are, the more fodder they have access to if they were to try to hurt us. The more a parent loves a child, the harder it will be when that child seeks independence. If an addict gives up his drug habit, it means he will be healthier and happier but it also means he may have to face the inner demons he was hiding by using.
Analyzing Networks // Wolfram Alpha Takes on Facebook
Wolfram Alpha, a cool tool for learning anything about everything, just added integration with Facebook so you can analyze your network. As someone who is fascinated by the people who surround me, I tested it out and it was definitely both fun and interesting.
Some of my favorite findings worth sharing here (though I question the complete accuracy):
Most common friends’ names:
Sarah (23) | Rachel (22) | Michael (19) | David (18) | Jason (18)
Single (24.5%) | Married (29.5%) | Engaged (9%) | In a Relationship (34%)
Female (58.3%) | Male (41.7%)
Most commented on status:
The one after I was hit by a truck last summer (37 comments)
Word frequencies for wall posts:
friends (96) | know (79) | new (70) | fun (69) | please (69) |
people (66) | good (63) | really (62) | day (61) | awesome (58)
And my visualization of my network, which I think I might adopt as a personal branding tool / logo for all things connector. (What do you think?)
Looking for your next career move but have no idea what it should be? Curious to expand your horizons with no commitment? I am a huge fan of informational interviews, because you can get no-pressure insight from people with experience. This blog post is a really great guide to a successful informational interview.
Who should you interview? I have a few tactics that you can learn in my Brainery class, but one of my favorites is this:
- Make 5 columns on a sheet of paper (portrait orientation). The header for each column should be someone you know very well (ie best friend, professor, professional mentor, parent, cousin, sports coach, etc.).
- Under each name, write 10 people that they know that you have either never met or have only ever met casually. You do not need to know their name; it could just be their connection (ie her cousin with the glasses, coworker (dave or dan?), guy at coffee shop she talks to every day).
- You now have 50 names in addition to the 5 you started with. Circle 6. Make a point to connect with those 6 in the next month.
Good luck! Do report any informational interview successes or ask any questions!
If you want to create a network, awaken the possibilities in those that you connect with. You can grow a more vibrant community in the next six months by genuinely listening to others than you can in the next six years by trying to get others interested in you and your plans.
Sherry Turkle: Connected, but alone? A TED talk well worth watching. Please do share your thoughts in comments if you watch; I’m very curious to hear them as I haven’t fully formed my own.
We all need to focus on the many many ways that technology can lead us back to our real lives, our own bodies, our own communities, our own politics, our own planet; they need us. Let’s talk about how we can use digital technology, the technology of our dreams, to make this life the life we can love.
Many of you know me as a “connector”… you can learn those soft skills too! Take my class!
That’s right, I’m teaching another class at the Brooklyn Brainery called How To Be A Connector. I know you can’t teach people to have a certain personality, but everyone can learn how to be smart with the contacts they have and connect more meaningfully. Here are the details:
Everyone knows that one person who knows everyone. If you want to learn gardening, they have a contact. A job in finance, check. A voiceover artist to coach you in starting your new podcast? Easy. But how do your peers know so many people, and how do they organize them?!
Learn about the art of being a connector (and what that even means), and what responsibilities and cautions come with it. You’ll also learn how to realize the network you already have and do the right thing with it. While this isn’t a class to learn about good networking practices in the traditional sense, you will leave with a better sense of the nuances of connecting meaningfully.
This class is perfect for people with a genuine interest in learning the art of using a Rolodex of contacts wisely, and for those who just want to appreciate how the magic happens. A willingness to participate in brainstorming and groupwork with an open mind is a must. Please don’t sign up if your primary goal is to get 14 other business cards to add to your collection… even though that very well might happen!
Sign up for this one session class on Monday, April 16, and/or share with friends who might be interested. My other class on grantwriting is full, but you can put your name on the waitlist and/or watch for me to teach it again!
[note: As of 1:30pm today, the class has sold out. Put your name on the waitlist or hope I teach it again! Don’t forget I do private consulting too; email me for rates. Thanks to all who helped to share the class!]
Thinking about “Networking”
My friend Alisha thinks very similarly to how I do about “networking,” and she just wrote a great post about it. Here’s an excerpt describing what networking should be and what a lot of people try to make it:
What is networking, even? To be honest, I hate the term. Networking to me is a couple of things:
- connecting people through genuinely exciting ideas
- being social and attending social gatherings
- fostering meaningful discussion
- building a community of friends, peers, and leaders who will shape your goals
- helping people help you achieve said goals
Networking is not the following, if you ask me:
- blindly handing out business cards
- steering conversations to be self-promotional
- upselling your skills or expertise
- faking your role in your industry
- talking buzzwords and schemes to make yourself look good
- stalking social media users online
- going to happy hour meetups all the time to score free food & drinks
As with anything else, there are rules to building your network and sharing it with others. The rest of the post gives some good pointers for not ruining the network you are constantly building.
This is what I do. I should probably bring it to some sort of scale someday. If you need connecting, I’m your girl.
[That statement alone is the downside of being a connector; we exhaust ourselves with completely sincere offers and then all of the requests and ideas come at once. But I’ve accepted that and love it anyway.]