Superconnector: Stop Networking and Start Building Business Relationships that Matterby Scott Gerber, Ryan Paugh
A step-by-step approach for all those who want to stop networking for the sake of networking. In Superconnector, you’ll learn the fundamentals of creating and enhancing authentic and transparent communities. The authors share winning strategies that can help you build mutually beneficial, long-term connections that take your personal and business relationships to the next level.
Think like a Superconnector, not a networker
“How self-aware are you actually? The only way to answer that question for yourself is to look at your decisions. Do you base your decisions on your strengths, or do you just make decisions because everyone else is doing something?”
In today’s world, decision-makers are abandoning the traditional networking model in favor of exclusive, invite-only communities where they can connect to like-minded individuals, save time, and maximize their value. They are recognizing that there’s a big difference between networking and connecting. Networking is a transactional approach that’s focused on getting a result for yourself. On the other hand, connecting is about developing a genuine interest in the needs of the other person and then finding ways to be of service to them. More people are feeling the need to create more mutually beneficial rather than selfish relationships.
This is where the connector comes in. A connector is someone who can identify a person’s needs and then introduce them to another individual who can meet those needs. A connector would rather walk out of an event with one new acquaintance that can turn into a mutually beneficial relationship than have the contacts of 50 people who’ll never pick up their call. But to be a Superconnector, you need to cultivate one very important attribute—self-awareness.
You need to know your strengths, weaknesses, and motivations. You should identify your connection intelligence i.e. the way you connect to others and how they perceive you. You also have to know the type of environment you naturally thrive in as this determines how well you build strong relationships. As the world changes, those who adapt and become masters of building genuine relationships will become a sought-after resource by entrepreneurs.
Actions to take
Practice selectivity with people and your time
“To some people, selectivity means being exclusive in the form of a structured, formal group. To others, it could be the company you keep. You don’t have to be everybody’s best friend”
If you are the company you keep, then it’s important to be selective with the kind of people who hang around you. It’s naïve to think that you can build a network with everyone who approaches and talks to you. Superconnectors understand this concept better than everyone else. They focus on surrounding themselves with people who they admire, and those who share their values and beliefs.
This doesn’t mean you should be a snob. You can interact with people from all walks of life without necessarily allowing everyone into your inner circle. Part of being a Superconnector is being highly aware of the value of your time and choosing to connect to individuals who can add maximum value to your network. People are going to judge you based on your social circle, thus it’s important to select your associates wisely. Create a set of principles and use them to identify trusted individuals who you can connect with for long-term mutual gain.
Remember that you’re building a community of people who can add value to each other. Therefore, you have the power to decide the rules of engagement and who to spend your precious time on. Don’t fall into the trap of connecting with too many people at once. Keep your inner circle small, create deeper connections, and let it grow organically over time.
Actions to take
Communicate like a Superconnector
“The best Superconnectors uncover context, data, and specificity through conversation. They’re like the Sherlock Holmes of Discourse, peeling back layers of jargon, uncertainty, or inconsistencies to determine the true value that can be unleashed with the right connection”
When most people have conversations, they focus on the mundane stuff such as what a person does for a living, their job title, educational background, etc. This often leads to shallow and selfish connections that rarely lead to a meaningful relationship. Superconnectors, however, communicate in a very specific way. They combine critical thinking with active listening and ask the right questions that allow them to assess how they can add value to the other person. Their goal is to get as much context on the other person as possible so that they can have quality conversations that build a deeper relationship.
Some may argue that introverts cannot become great connectors. This isn’t true. Evidence shows that introverts can be Superconnectors if they learn the right strategies. While it’s true that a person with a Type A personality can hog all the attention and get to know as many people as possible, an introvert can play the game according to their own rules and still win. You don’t have to create a lot of new ties to build strong connections. You can revive some of your dormant relationships and make them part of your new network.
Ultimately, strong connections are based on how well people know each other. Your small talk must be purposeful and intentional even as you converse about fun topics. Use small talk to find out as much as you can about the other person so that you’ll know how to provide strategic value to them in the future.
Actions to take
Asking the right questions
“Superconnectors train themselves to have conversations that fill in ask gaps. In short, good questions keep people talking about what matters to them rather than making traditional, obligatory small talk”
One of the things a Superconnector does well is leading a conversation through questions. Good questions keep people talking and offer you the opportunity to learn more about the other person. A good question is open-ended and provides context that may come in handy in future discussions. As the other person answers your questions, your goal is to pay attention and intuitively discern what their needs are based on their reply so that you know how to offer value to them.
Unfortunately, this isn’t how most conversations go. We tend to ask questions that don’t help build meaningful connections with others. When you ask the right question, the other person may light up and offer amazing responses that reveal who they are. This is important because you’re trying to learn about them and their accomplishments rather than talking about yourself.
Since we live in a digital age, most of your connections will come via the internet. This means you need to know how to communicate online in a way that ensures you get a positive response. You can also use online platforms to engage with different types of users. While doing so, use that opportunity to build meaningful connections by helping people and offering valuable insight into whatever challenges they may have. Over time, this will help you stand out as someone worth connecting with.
Actions to take
Making an introduction
“You must always ask for more context as to why someone wants to connect. If you don’t do this, you could be setting up an important contact of yours with a person who’s trying to sell them something they don’t want”
Before you connect two people, you have to learn the rules of making a good introduction. Whether it’s in person or online, a good introduction provides context, avoids unnecessary verbosity, and lays out the goals and mutual value of the potential relationship. Your job as the connector is to ensure a positive experience for everyone while minimizing the risk of wasting people’s time.
Furthermore, the introduction is an opportunity for you to show both parties how thoughtful you are. You show how thoughtful you are by demonstrating that you were paying attention to them and were listening to their needs when you first met them. If you connect two people and they extract value from the new relationship, they’ll know that you’re genuine in your intentions to meet their needs.
However, there are some instances when you should not make an introduction. For example, if one person has unrealistic goals or inauthentic intentions, you should reject their request for an introduction. As a Superconnector, you have a responsibility to protect your community and preserve your name. The moment you start overpromising to others is the moment people begin to lose faith in your value. That’s the worst thing that can happen to a connector.
Actions to take
Building a community
“The idea is to remove all assumptions about whom you should be connecting with. In other words, the perceived or “obvious” network is not always the one you should be after. The better plan is to find nonobvious circles that can morph over time”
It’s easy to assume that a Superconnector is someone who can host swanky parties or dinners and spend millions of dollars to build the right relationships. But the truth is that Superconnectors don’t start with money or connections. They can build a community around them by being generous, consistent, and finding ways to help people. This is a talent anyone can develop by learning the basics and then practicing them in the real world.
When you consistently display particular values, you attract others who share your intentions. This collection of people who share some kind of commonality is what then forms a community. A community can be based on industry, job title, or professional status. It can also cut across industries and be a group of people who share a similar background. It can even be online or offline, or both. The important thing is to have structures that enable people to have deeper engagements with each other, for example, events, newsletters, or forums.
Actions to take
Hosting a remarkable experience
“Everything Superconnectors touch is meticulously thought out in advance. All the tiny details that feel random, spontaneous, and free-form? Those things may very well feel that way, but that’s because someone behind the scenes has created this environment. Details, after all, are the key to success”
To a Superconnector, there’s no such thing as a regular party, meeting, or gathering. Every networking event has to be turned into a remarkable experience to deliver the most amount of wow factor to the community. This can be in the form of tickets to a sporting event, a hunting trip, an exclusive wine tasting, or an intimate family dinner in a private apartment. But why is it important to have these remarkable experiences?
The simple reason is that remarkable experiences eliminate awkwardness and foster genuine conversation between people. Most networking events tend to be full of tension and friction. This is because people focus on things like job titles when initiating conversation, thus making the connection feel transactional. But a remarkable experience leads to organic conversations where people see each other as more than just a job. People become more authentic and vulnerable, and this ultimately leads to a stronger community.
Actions to take
Maintaining contact with your network
“To the outside world, staying on top of your network looks natural and effortless. And many people assume they need expensive—or, even worse, custom-built!—software or tools to do so. Nothing could be further from the truth”
Building a network is one thing. Maintaining contact with the hundreds or potentially thousands of people in your network is not easy. However, there are simple steps you can take to stay in touch with and remember everyone in your network. The important thing is to master the basics and set up the right frameworks to help you out. It’s better to have a simple tool that allows you to get things done quicker than a fancy one that complicates your life.
The best Superconnectors use templates that allow them to connect with their network with a few pushes of a button. When your network is still small, you can easily memorize people’s attributes and reach out to them. However, as the community grows, you need a system that helps you make and organize connections. This can be a Facebook group, a newsletter, or an app that enables you to communicate quickly and effectively with as many people as you wish. Just remember that consistency is the key. Keep maintaining contact with your network until it becomes second nature.
Actions to take
Making smart asks
“Most people are terrible askers. They don’t realize that there is a methodology to making an ask. While some people believe in chance or luck, Superconnectors use intention. You want to make sure the people you’re making asks of share your values, goals, and vision”
We’ve all asked for something before, and therefore, it seems like an easy thing to do. You just open your mouth and say what you want. Unfortunately, it’s not always that straightforward. If you go around asking random people for help, you can come across as transactional. You also run the risk of asking for the wrong thing at the wrong time or saying the wrong thing that paints you in a bad light. So, how can you make a smart ask that gets you what you want?
It all boils down to not treating your connections as if they are oversize wallets. You need to first build a good reputation and gain the trust of your network. This allows people to vouch for you even before you ask for a favor. You also need to ensure that you ask the right person for help and that they understand exactly what you’re asking for. Avoid being vague and nonsensical with your asks as it may create a bad impression for you within your network. If you want someone to connect you to somebody else, then be prepared to give them enough information to help you.