Are You a Connector?

In a recent CIO article (Great IT Leaders Must Have This Trait)  talking about the traits of successful people in the technology world, it mentions the importance of being a connector.

When you think about it, it doesn’t matter what your industry; being a connector has value in all walks of life.

A friend of mine has a teenage daughter in her final year of high school. She is interested in a job in technology but isn’t sure where to start. Her mother said:

“I have several contacts that have expressed an interested in helping you but you have to make the first move. Over the years, I have grown and nurtured my network and consequently know people that may be able to help you.”

Her daughter was interested but didn’t want a “hand out.” 

“I’ve made the initial contact but now you have to build your own connection with these people and then prove yourself worthy of the job.”

Making connections is a life long exercise; one in which you never really know how it might help.

One marketing executive works hard on his LinkedIn account. He spends a little time each day sharing articles, sending emails, reaching out to his network and when he found himself unemployed a few years ago, it was his connection that led him to several opportunities which led to his next career move.

Being a great connector is important within your current role as well and hopefully you work in a company that supports and encourages cross department work. 

For some, reaching out to connect to people you don’t know may be outside your comfort zone. The CIO article offers some advice in that instance:

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
The first challenge that you will likely have when it comes to becoming a great connector is that your world is too small. Face it, IT professionals tend to only spend time with others in our industry. Perhaps on a social level, your reach is broader, but there’s a good chance that you rarely connect your two worlds. However, to create the Medici Effect, you need to bring together people of different disciplines, cultures and perspectives. It means that you need to get out of your comfort zone and find people whose backgrounds are different than your own! Perhaps that involves going to a financial industry networking event. Or perhaps you can attend a gallery reception (you know, with art and stuff!). Or you can attend a local Chamber of Commerce event. Whatever it is, just make sure that you are purposefully putting yourself in a situation where you will meet people who look at the world differently than you do. 

Psych Central talks about how to make great connections at work and of their 6 tips, the first two apply whether you are seeking a job, looking for prospects or just want to expand your network:

      1. Attend an industry convention or networking meeting with a plan.Review the presenters ahead of time and map out who you’d like to meet.  Prepare a few sentences about their accomplishments or interests and why you want to meet them.
      2. Ask questions.It can be intimidating to approach others, but most people like to talk about themselves.  Asking questions can prompt a genuine discussion.

Would you consider yourself a connector? If not, what is holding you back? Opportunity? Shyness? How to? 

Observe the people you work with; who do you already know that is a great connector? Consider taking them out to lunch and ask them how they do it. They will be able to offer you some great advice and may even have suggestions as to a few people you might meet. 

As always, keep your LinkedIn profile update – whether you are looking for a job or not – it is a great place to meet and connect with business leaders around the country.