“It’s not about what you know — it’s about who you know.”
Chances are you’ve heard this phrase before. But is it really true? A new class of entrepreneurial super connectors are proving it to be.
Super connectors are people with more than just a strong social media followings and lots of friends. They’re people who are making high-level connections on a regular basis through methodical and well thought out — albeit “simple” — introductions.
While others may be able to introduce you to an acquaintance, these connectors are making the smart, right introductions that actually lead to real results for everyone involved. The best of the best are combining business worlds and breaking down industry barriers.
To find out their secrets, I spoke to some of the most influential super connectors impacting industries worldwide. Check out seven of their firsthand tips:
1. It is about who you know — and then some
“Running a successful business is all about who you know, but who you know is not enough,” said entrepreneur and blogger Lewis Howes. “Allowing others to know how much you care is what really matters. Going above and beyond to connect on an intimate, emotional, spiritual, or personal level is important.”
It’s one thing to just ‘know’ somebody, but it’s something else entirely to be connected on a broader, more personalized level. “That’s the X-factor connection that really matters, and it’s what makes a huge difference in making your business succeed.”
2. Harness the power of curation
“Curation is the ability to bring people who should know one another together in an intimate setting so they can share meaningful conversations and build the foundation for a strong relationship. It’s truly connecting the dots at a higher level for those being curated.”
While you may not wear the title of super connector, you can further leverage and create relationships by connecting those dots and putting thought into your guest lists for events.
3. Ask the most important question
It isn’t about you. “Always ask, ‘How can I help you?’” Gerber said. “Changing your mindset around this question is crucial. You can never go into it with self-interest as a primary goal or people will see right through you.”
“The No. 1 problem with networking is that people are out for themselves,” Gerber told Fast Company. When you change your mindset and focus on those you’re connecting with, the relationship grows and is more beneficial to everyone.
4. Provide real value
A lot of people are romantic about their careers, said Gary Vaynerchuk, author of “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook” and founder of VaynerMedia. They think what you achieve is purely a result of the quality of your work and what you know — but most people are impatient.
“They’re looking to extract value from their relationships instead of giving value,” Vaynerchuk said.
Pay things forward, he urges. “Thanks to social media and email, you can really get through to anybody in today’s world. But what’s more important is going in for the right hook. You actually have to go and ask for the intro, and the best way to be comfortable asking for that favor is to bring that person value first.
“By giving someone value first, you then have the equity to spend asking them to make that intro.”
5. Be concise
One thing most super connectors have in common is a packed schedule. Adam Rifkin, founder of PandaWhale, says you need to offer busy connectors clear-cut calls to action.
“Super connectors usually lack time,” Rifkin notes. So writing a five page email about how passionately you feel about their business is probably not the best way to network.
Instead, offer clarity on who you are, how you can add value, and what you need. Rifkin says this could be as simple as, “cuing up an email to make it easier to reply with an action or decision.”
Don’t write an email merely to say hello, include a call to action and ask to meet for an informational coffee. The average super connector is constantly being pulled in many directions, so you have to make your time count.
6. If you want win in the long-term, be a hybrid
As more traditional industry lines get blurred and joined together (think ed-tech or e-commerce), “it’s vital that connectors match people from different industries,” Gerber says. Reach out of your comfort zone to connect with people outside of your industry or area of expertise – it’s their myriad knowledge that will really help you win in the long run.
Dan Lack, founder of Meeting of the Big Minds, agrees. “Nobody builds a company by themselves,” he said. “It’s also about external factors and relationships beyond your internal team, like press, investors, strategic partnerships, HR, or an attorney. Those all take time to navigate. Yes, you can do it without having that network, but it’ll take longer and you might not have the same outcome.”
7. If you want to show sincere interest, skip social media
Lack says he doesn’t use social media to find a connection. “Phone or email is fine, but to accelerate the process, you need a mutual introduction. People want social proof you’re a valuable investment of their time,” he said. “Having someone else introduce you helps verify that. Come across as a peer, not just an eager beaver.”
And yes – email sometimes communicates you’re just an eager beaver. “Send that email to a mutual connection first, and have them validate you by ‘pre-vouching’ for you,” Lack said. “People don’t want to be sold, they don’t want to be transactional. Sincere interest is most beneficial.”
Becoming a super connector doesn’t mean asking for favors. It means offering mutual value so everybody wins in the long run.
What are some super connector tips you’d add to this list?