Right now, you could likely name some connectors in your life — individuals who you feel are always piped into what’s going on. They pay close attention to where everyone is, either in their professional or personal lives, and they like to have their ear to the ground so that, when possible, they can connect the dots for people in their network.
To be a connector means having a group of associates that can greatly impact your career and life. So often, the answer to your problems – or rather the solution – is already within your reach. You just have to pay attention to be aware of it. If you pay close attention and are intentional in your networking, you can quickly become one of the great connectors in your circle, too.
We chatted with Domonique Worship (@coach_domonique) and Rachel Rodgers (@rachrodgersesq) to learn how to be a better connector. Worship is a Career and Leadership Development Coach who works with individuals and organizations on finding clarity on their goals and strategizing to make their vision a reality. In fact, she’s created a free road map to help you get started. Rodgers is the CEO of HelloSeven.co and both an intellectual property lawyer and business coach. These two experts provided some insight on how you can be a connector in your industry.
How to get started
“The biggest thing is first you yourself being connected and plugged into your own network,” says Worship. “It’s really important to consistently grow your network and maintain the connections that you’ve developed. A lot of times we’ll meet people, connect, exchange an initial email, and connect on Linkedin, and then we never speak again. So in order to be a connector, you first have to have your own network and from there you can connect people with one another.”
Stay in touch and up to date
Worship says it’s important, once you have your network, to regularly touch base with those in it. You should be aware of what’s happening in their lives. See if they’re looking to make a transition, or what type of move they are interested in. “Getting a clear sense of what’s top of mind for them…That puts you in a position to put them in contact with people in your network who can support them.”
Share what you know
Rodgers is a big proponent of the power of sharing our wisdom with others. She provides this example: “You got booked to give a keynote speech and got paid $5K to do it? And now you’re texting with a friend and she’s wondering, ‘How much should I charge for a speaking gig?’ Share what you know.”
Help each other avoid catastrophe
In addition to sharing positive information like the above, Rodgers also encourages women to help each other avoid disastrous situations. She says, “For example, you know that Marvin from such and such company is an a–hole and the worst client ever? Let your friend know so she can avoid calamity! Women chronically overwork and under-charge and get into toxic situations that could have been avoided…if another woman had been willing to share some info. Help a sister out!”
Hosting events for like-minded thinkers
Worship says she often sees connectors hosting events such as happy hours, dinner parties, or coffee get-togethers (during this pandemic, these will likely be virtual). When it comes to creating the guest list, “Maybe they’re in the same industry or same space or might be interested in the same space but don’t know each other,” says Worship, adding that the connector is “Intentional about bringing people together who would benefit from knowing each other.”
Connecting on social media
Being a free tool, social media is something connectors should be utilizing, says Worship. “It costs you nothing to share someone’s post or leave a really thoughtful comment showing your support. Engage with other people in your industry. If you’re an entrepreneur, engage with potential clients or people who fit your ideal client profile. Follow them. Like their pictures. Comment on their posts. If you see something on their feed that really speaks to you, send them a DM about it. [Say] ‘I saw something on your page that really resonates with me, thanks for sharing – I’d love to stay connected with you.’”
In terms of your own posting
“Be consistent,” says Worship. She suggests, “Posting content that’s aligned with your brand and with your messaging. People will begin to become familiar with you and associate you with certain things – you have a real opportunity to build your brand (personally or professionally) based on the content you’re putting out there…True authentic connection should always be the goal.”
Supporting Worship’s words is research that’s found that as many as 86 percent of social media users want to see content that’s authentic but 57 percent believe that less than half of brands on social media do create authentic content.
Promote those you believe in
Rodgers says if you think someone is great, let your network know it. “Let’s say you know a badass stylist. She’s an undiscovered treasure who should be well-known but isn’t yet. Unlock a door for her. Introduce her to a client. Mention her name to a journalist. Nominate her for a small business award. Post her info in an online forum and tell everyone, ‘Hire this woman.’ You can unlock incredible doors for people. You are more influential than you think.”
Impart your wisdom onto others
Rodgers also sees the power in giving out your acquired knowledge and skills. “You’ve got money tips? Style tips? Health tips? A wealth of knowledge and resources? Share with your community. Host a free class, or start a podcast, or some other platform so you can share what you know, and elevate people.”
But, it can’t all be free
With regards to sharing your wisdom, Rodgers says, “This does not mean ‘share everything for free.’ Share with limits. Share a delightful snack. For the full meal, they will need to hire you.” She adds, “If you build a reputation as a kind, cool, and generous person, then you will always have a full roster of loyal friends and colleagues who would do just about anything for you.”
Using Linkedin as a resource
When it comes to using Linkedin to be a connector, “Approaching it with some level of intention is really important,” says Worship. “Linkedin is one of the most powerful professional networking tools that we have available to us. If used in the right way, it can lead to meaningful connections.” We listed Linkedin as one of the best job search sites, because of the pre-vetting it does for you, and the ways it connects the dots, pulling in beneficial contacts. Worship elaborates on how to use that tool in the next slide.
Don’t send a cold request
One mistake Worship recommends avoiding is “Sending a connection request without any context for why you’re connecting. Include a quick message as to why you’re sending them a request. Maybe you met them at a recent event or you saw them speak on a panel or their background is of interest to you and you’d love to stay connected…Often when people get cold contacts or connection requests, they may ignore them. Or they accept but it doesn’t result in a meaningful connection unless there’s some sort of follow-up.”
Do your research first
“If you’re on the job hunt, when figuring out what companies or roles are a good fit, you can search the company on Linkedin. [And see], are you connected to someone who works at the company? Who is doing X role that’s of interest to you? It’s important to leverage those connections,” says Worship.
Overcoming request shyness
Worship tells us a lot of her clients are reluctant to message people who they don’t know or haven’t met yet. “But if you take that approach you miss out on an opportunity to connect in ways that could be valuable for both of you. Don’t count yourself out of the game before you even get in….The worst-case scenario is that they don’t respond to you. Then you’re in the same position that you are now.” She adds, “When you’re sending cold messages, you may not always get a response, and that’s okay – don’t take it personally. So long as you’re approaching it authentically and connecting with people who you have a genuine interest in, you can’t go wrong.”
When putting others in touch
When you’re going to make an introduction between two people who can benefit from knowing one another, sending a really thoughtful email intro is something Worship says goes a long way. “It can be straightforward. ‘So and so meet so and so. So and so is doing X. I thought it might be mutually beneficial for you two to connect, but I’ll let you take it from here.’ And it’s on them to make the connection from there or not.” Surveys have found that referrals have a significantly higher applicant-to-hire rate than those who apply for a job with no referral. That just shows you the power of a referral, and what it can mean to those in your network when you make these introductions.