Become a Connector: the importance of building your network
A powerful network is the key to success in most marketing strategies.
Your network is your most powerful tool when it comes to spreading messages. If you didn’t read it yet, I invite you to read my article “The basics of network marketing” explaining the involvement of a personal network in any business strategy.
But to go further, to create real powerful network that you can use in a real business situation, you must change yourself into a Connector.
Connectors have a power most people will never have: they always know someone.
In this article I will teach you how to become a Connector and make the best use of this new ability to develop your business.
If you do not know what a Connector is or if you would like to learn more about how to integrate Connectors in a global Viral strategy, please refer to my article “The art of starting an epidemic”.
To summarize, Connectors are people who naturally have tons of friends.
Recognizing a Connector is pretty easy: if you have around you someone who goes out almost every day to meet some friends, this person is most probably a Connector.
Connectors have lots of contacts with who they keep regular connections.
What is interesting about Connectors is that they are naturally social: they do not need to force themselves to meet and contact people all the time. They organize events, call up people they didn’t see for long, send you a personal message for your birthday even though you have no idea when is their one… Connectors are Social Freaks. They love social connections and they collect friends like you would collect stamps.
Everyone needs social connections: it is part of human nature to require social contacts and interactions. However, for most people, those interactions are very limited in daily life: you go to work every day, meet colleagues and customers, go home, see your family, and once in a while go out to meet some friends. For most people, that is enough to feed their need of social interactions.
For Connectors, this is far from being enough; a real Connector will need to meet people almost every day and will be eager to create new contacts all the time.
Connectors rule the world because they have contact with the whole world.
Did you ever experience the situation where you absolutely need to contact a professional (let’s say you must find a journalist to help you out with your press release) but you don’t know any personally? That is usually at that time that a Connector will say “Hey, I have a friend who is journalist! I met him XXX years ago in YYY, he was….”. Connectors always know someone, and they usually can even give you the biography of their contacts.
Do you know that if you were a Connector, you would have had this contact? Wouldn’t it ease your life to always know the right person?
Do you know that there are only five people between you and the United States president? Do you know that there are no more than five people between you and your favorite singer or actor?
This is what we call the six degrees separation rule: you are, on average, six steps away from any person on earth. Between you and anyone else on this planet, there are about six steps (five people) of connection. You have a friend, who has a friend, who knows someone, who has a contact, who has a friend, who knows the American president.
This theory was first claimed by Frigyes Karinthy in 1929 but has been tested and verified several times since.
This idea gives a very different perspective to human relations and pictures the world as a big network where interconnections are enormous.
Now, let’s try a simple calculation.
In your contact list, you may have:
- 10 family members
- 5 good friends
- 10 other friends
- 10 professional contacts
- 10 people you didn’t contact for years
In total, your contact list contains 45 people.
Now, let’s consider it as an average number for people for our example.
You know 45 people who each know 45.
Within 6 steps, you could reach:
45 * 45 * 45 * 45 * 45 * 45 = 456 = 8,303,765,625
Over 8 billion people, more than the population of the earth.
This is considering that everyone has the same number of people in its contact list. Of course, the number would vary from one person to another, and you would anyway very seldom contact people through 6 steps.
But let’s consider now that you decide to become a Connector and manage to upgrade your contact list to 150 people.
If you must find a journalist, and you have no journalist within your 150 contacts, you could still reach people on a second level (asking your contacts if they would know a journalist):
150 * 45 = 6750.
Within 6750 people, you will most probably find a journalist, right?
You would like to feel the real power of the six degrees of separation rule? Easy.
Prepare a letter for your favorite singer or actor. Give one copy of this letter to each of your contacts, and ask them to pass this letter to the person in their network they estimate being the more able to reach the actor or singer. Ask them to continue spreading the letter until it finally reaches the right person. Once the letter arrives, try to track back its path; you will surely find out that this letter went through, in average, five people only before reaching its right recipient. This is the rule of the six degrees separation.
I would also suggest you look at the “Kevin Bacon’s game”, you will find a very interesting example of what the Six Degrees Separation rule can do.
Those examples and theories are just here to illustrate a simple fact: contacts increase exponentially and you are never far from the people who could influence your strategies. Becoming a Connector won’t be an easy task, but it will surely completely change your life and your business.
Dunbar’s number is a fictive number and has never been precisely defined.
This number is an estimation of the maximum of “live” contacts it is possible to have. I define “live” contact as someone with who we have regular contact.
Dunbar’s number is proposed to be between 100 and 230, with an average of 150.
Clearly, it means that you could have “stable social relationships” with a maximum of 150 people. Beyond this number, you couldn’t really keep contact with all of them.
This is just estimation: you can surely find incredible Connectors having contact with much more than 150 people, but for most people, reaching this number seems impossible already.
Your goal is not to reach this fictive number. There is no competition in becoming a Connector and there is no need for counting your contacts as if you were hunting them, but it is interesting to estimate your potential and limits.
Alright, we finally reach the heart of the topic: how to become a Connector?
It is impossible.
No, this isn’t a joke: becoming a Connector is impossible. Connectors are people who were born that way: they naturally LOVE social interactions. They spend their lives creating and maintaining contacts; not because they want to make profit with it, but simply because they love it. If you are not naturally a Connector, you won’t ever be one. Love for social interactions isn’t something you can learn.
“So, did I waste my time reading this article?!”. No, of course!
I can’t teach you how to become a Connector, but I can help you to behave like one and to get closer to it.
Connectors are defined as such because they:
- Love social interactions
- Know many people
- Keep regular contact with those people
You cannot fake the first one if it isn’t natural for you. But for the rest, it is easy to copy the model if you understand it and follow some rules.
Your first step is indeed to enrich your contact list.
For this, there aren’t a million solutions: it requires time and social interactions.
Start by contacting those people you haven’t seen for ages and offer them to have a drink and talk about the past. That is always nice to see how people have changed!
The next step is to meet new people, both online and offline. Online, go on forums, chats, social media, and meet those people who are sharing same ideas or passions as you. Offline, go to associations, cultural events, community gatherings, sport centers, and meet new people with who you can exchange ideas.
For further suggestions on how to build new relationships, please refer to my article “The basics of network marketing”.
The real challenge is here.
Making contacts is not easy for everyone, but it is affordable. Keeping contact is much more difficult, and if it doesn’t come to you naturally, you will have to pay necessary efforts to make it work.
You must find the right balance between “no contact” and “constant spam”. The purpose here is to keep contact without becoming overwhelming. You should try to find the right opportunities to contact people individually and try to meet them once in a while.
For example, try to send personal messages to your contacts for Christmas, New year, birthdays, Thanksgiving, etc…
Do not spam your contacts unnecessarily; they would lose all interest in talking to you.
You must meet your contacts regularly.
What is regularly? It depends mainly on you, your schedule, your preferences and your relationships. It is impossible to define a frequency working for everyone. However, you can consider that once a year is a minimum.
If you want to give value to your contacts, you must organize them in a proper way.
It would make no sense to meet new people if you can’t keep their contact properly.
Stop keeping an old book full of business cards: you probably have no idea what most of those correspond to.
Also forget about the traditional paper notebook full of contacts and modifications, absolutely inconvenient and seldom updated.
Live with your time: the net offers plenty of great tools to deal with your contacts.
Facebook is actually a good example: it stores all your contacts, reminds you of their birthdays, let you know their news, etc…
Linkedin also does it, but with professional contacts.
Yahoo! and Gmail enable you to create online contact books containing plenty of details.
Your computer probably also hosts some programs such as Outlook or Thunderbird allowing you to create your own contact book.
The problem with all those items is that they are very specific:
Facebook contains only one category of contacts (you seldom have family, friends, customers, suppliers, colleagues, etc…) and shows only what your contact agrees to show.
Same for Linkedin, Myspace, Twitter, etc…
Google+ may gather all your contacts in one platform, but it requires such contacts to have registered and accepted you first.
Yahoo!, Gmail and local programs give you more freedom but are very standard.
Please refer to my article "Which Social Media is the most adapted to my business" for further information.
I would suggest you to find some customizable solution fitting exactly your needs.
I have personally developed for myself and for a few customers a contact system that I use on a daily basis.
I built it the way I needed it to be built. It contains my contacts information, regroup them by categories, shows me their contact information, enables me to store some details about them (such as “where did we meet in the first place”, “what does he/she likes?”, “where does he live?”, etc…), to send direct emails, reminds me of birthdays, etc…
It doesn’t replace Facebook or other social media that I still use thoroughly, but it enables me to keep updated data of all my contacts in one single place created specifically for my needs.
Don’t forget that such data must be often updated: each time you send out an email for example, try to remember asking your contact if he/she could give you his/her latest contact information.
I just mentioned an important point: gathering and recording details about your contacts. It is essential that you keep personal notes about your contacts: now, having 45 contacts, you may never forget in which situation you met them and what they like. But imagine the same with 150 contacts: could you truly remember what they are allergic to, what was their industry and what are the names of their kids?
This is a selling tip I learnt years ago when I was studying business: always keep personal notes on your customers. If next time you meet them you remember the name of their dog, it is almost like if you were part of the family. Same goes with contacts: be caring, show your interest, and remember details about your contacts.
With all those instructions, you are probably now almost a real Connector.
Keep in mind that being a Connector is extremely time consuming but very rewarding if you do it well.
The key of such strategy is to put your heart in what you are doing: you can push yourself a little, but don’t force too much. If you do not enjoy meeting people, you are just not made to be a Connector.
The alternative solution is to make friend with a true Connector and enjoy his contact list: not everyone is made to enjoy highly social life.
Tags: become a connector create your network build your network create new contacts meet new people network marketing