The Art of Connection: Networking for Success

Explore the art of connection and its pivotal role in professional success. Discover how to become the linchpin in your network.

We all know them—the people who seem to know everyone and effortlessly make connections within their network. While it’s wonderful to know a ‘connector’, we can also develop those qualities and become a connector ourselves.

Malcolm Gladwell coined the phrase in his book “The Tipping Point”, describing connectors as the social equivalent of a computer network hub, who “link us up with the world…people with a special gift for bringing the world together”. Their network is extensive—they tend to be acquainted with over 100 people across many social, professional, and economic circles, and they actively introduce those who move in different circles.

Understanding the Power of Networking

Connectors are pivotal in creating opportunities and fostering business growth. By mastering this skill, professionals can unlock doors to new ventures and collaborations.

The notion that a few influential people make the world go around is not new. In the 1960s, psychologist Stanley Milgram conducted “the small world” experiment, sending letters to 160 people in Nebraska with the details of a Boston stockbroker, instructing them to send the letter to someone who might get the letter one step closer to the stockbroker. Not only did most of the letters reach the stockbroker in six steps (rising to the six degrees of separation theory), just three people were responsible for half of the letters being successfully delivered. Those three, well-connected people would certainly be considered connectors.

Why is connection important?

The saying goes “no man is an island” and that’s never been truer. We live in a world that is growing ever more connected and isolation can be crippling. Our mental well-being and our physical health both benefit from being socially connected with others, while it can also help us achieve success in our endeavours.

The Value of a Strong Network

In the business context, a robust network can mean the difference between stagnation and success. It’s not just who you know, but how you engage with them.

Just think about the last time you achieved a significant goal—whether it’s a personal achievement or a business milestone and it’s likely that at some point you drew upon the help of someone else or others.

Ways to foster connections and benefit from them

Networking is quite distinct to connecting. Whereas networking is often viewed as a means to an end, connecting is more altruistic—driven by a genuine interest in purposeful engagement to assist others. In your interactions, don’t just look to what is in it for you or even for mutual benefit—be the hub and actively seek out connections on behalf of others.

The Art of Authentic Connections

True connectors know that genuine relationships are the cornerstone of a strong network. It’s about creating mutual value that extends beyond the immediate interaction.

Foster quality connections over quantity. It’s easier to foster many connections, particularly via social media, but be conscious of the quality of those connections. To be able to purposefully connect with others in a way that offers real value, you need to engage with people. That takes time and genuine curiosity: ask questions, find out what makes them tick and then you can meaningfully assist them.

Being open to different things

One of the reasons connectors are so successful is they have contacts in diverse areas within many different communities, often through hobbies and interests. If you’d like to expand your network and horizons the first step might be to follow where your interests lead and explore your passions.

Diversify Your Connections

Engaging with a variety of sectors enriches your network and opens up a wider array of opportunities, especially in a multifaceted market.

Get out of your comfort zone. To be a connector or get the benefit from connections you may have to move out of your comfort zone. That might mean putting yourself in a new environment, being willing to break the ice in a social situation or reach out when you don’t know what the response may be—and risk rejection or embarrassment. Connectors are not all extroverts and they come from all walks of life. You don’t have to be anyone other than yourself and in fact being authentic in your interactions will stand you in good stead.

Embrace New Challenges

Stepping out of your comfort zone is essential for growth. In today’s competitive market, it’s those who dare to reach out who often reap the greatest rewards.

This article is intended as an information source only and to provide general information only. The comments, examples, words and extracts from legislation and other sources in this publication do not constitute legal advice, financial or tax advice and should not be relied upon as such. All readers should seek advice from a professional adviser regarding the application of any of the comments in this article to their particular situation.