“Social capital is the most important currency in the world” is the core message of an upcoming book I was recently privileged to read before its release. That book? Superconnector: Stop Networking and Start Building Business Relationships That Matter, by Scott Gerber and Ryan Paugh.
Their book got me psyched about the importance of the people the authors call, well . . . superconnectors.
What’s a superconnector? Your first impression might be of a social maven who connects anyone and everyone — and you wouldn’t be far off, because there is a strategy involved in being a superconnector. But there’s more to it than that.
In fact, being able to make long-lasting connections means something in addition to how many LinkedIn invitations a person receives or his or her number of friends on Facebook. Rather, superconnectors are information brokers who are constantly learning about others and constantly connecting.Therefore, superconnections are relationships that are not only mutually beneficial but also the basis from which whole communities can be built.
With their book, Gerber and Paugh seek to change the very way we think about networking. They dig deep into best practices, commentary from successful superconnectors, how-tos and insights into how we can all advance our careers. They strive to make us all take a big step up from the mindless networking we’ve been doing, to a high degree of effectiveness at being the kind of connector they’re writing about.
Of course the ability to form significant professional relationships is paramount to all entrepreneurs. Below, are the three pillars behind the concept Gerber and Paugh define and how you too can implement those pillars to join this all-star club.
Pillar 1: the art of selectivity
Ever heard the phrase “You are the company you keep”? Being selective about the people you let into your network is crucial to earning the title of superconnector. It also goes beyond your connections.
Superconnectors are selective with their time, as well; they don’t immediately connect with 500 people, but instead start with a select five people they believe could become evangelists (people who believe in their cause and will spread the word for their ventures). The idea is that those five evangelists will then take the superconnector’s mission to another five people they think will likely be inspired by it. And those people will then carry the mission further.
One of the most common mistakes that entrepreneurs make when they’re just starting out is growing their inner circle too quickly and taking on too many projects at once. Remember to focus only on a few projects at a time and really dedicate yourself to them. This also applies to your inner circle: Be mindful of how much you can really give to people. You can do more for your community as a whole when you are focused.
Pillar 2: the power of association
When we think of the word “anchor,” we think of someone who’s grounded, sturdy and trustworthy. An anchor is exactly the person every superconnector needs: someone similar to a mentor, who can fill in the gaps where weaknesses exist. Anchors are the gatekeepers to meeting other people. This kind of gatekeeper need not be a wildly successful CEO, but instead be a group organizer, an advisor, a family friend.
These anchors also act as a sort of professional recommendation, which ties back to our previous point, “You are the company you keep”; the anchor that introduces you to his or her network is giving you credibility and value and showing that by the association with you, you are someone who can be trusted.
Pillar 3: habitual generosity
Some call it karma: Superconnectors are big believers that what you put out into the world always comes back around to you. This idea underscores why superconnectors are generous with both their time and positivity; the more they, give the more they get in return.
A superconnector Gerber and Paugh describe in their book is named Adam Rifkin; he’s the co-founder of 106 Miles, a tech entrepreneur meetup group. Rifkin is someone who swears by the impact of the “Five-Minute Favor,” the authors write. This kind of favor is something that can be done in five minutes or less, like delivering a handwritten note or sharing something a contact wrote on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.
Another way to practice habitual generosity is to help share the stories of others through blogs, books or social media. Interviewing a few professionals in the industry whom you are interested in forming professional relationships with might make them feel inclined to repay the favor one day.
Being selective with both your time and the people you most closely associate with (i.e.,your “inner circle”) is crucial to being a successful superconnector. But, with that said, when you do select projects to dedicate yourself to, give your time generously. What you put out into the world will come back to you. Also be sure to find your anchor, the person who is an advisor and can help you build strengths in unfamiliar areas. We all have them!
You have heard it a million times, but it bears repeating: Being connected in meaningful ways is important to each and every entrepreneur’s success. Building your network of brand ambassadors and evangelists could be the difference between where you are and where you want to be. After all, no man (or woman) is an island, and great things are accomplished together.