This 2-Letter Word Will Make You a Better Connector
Not all connections are worth it.
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I talk to the authors of non-fiction books and learn how they apply their book's lessons in their own lives. For this article, I talked to Scott Gerber, author of Superconnector.
It seems like, in today's world, everyone wants to be a connector.
Personal customer relationship managers are on the rise, new mastermind groups pop up every week, and workshops teaching how to manage your network are selling out.
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But with this desire to connect others comes a dark side. With so many people looking to deem themselves connectors, we've become inundated with bad introductions, drowning in a sea of opportunities that, while they may sound interesting, do not serve us.
In their new book, Superconnector, Scott Gerber and Ryan Paugh give some counterintuitive advice: The world's most beloved connectors aren't the ones who connect the most -- they're the ones who connect the most effectively.
The secret of the world's best connectors
In recent years, there has been an incredibly positive shift in the entrepreneurial world. Thanks to books like Give and Take, there's more focus than ever on being generous, giving and supportive to those around us.
When I got a chance to discuss the book with Gerber, I asked where we're going wrong.
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He explained: "Too many people are giving for giving's sake. They're just trying to be habitually generous because they've been told they should, so they end up more focused on their own generosity than the actual outcome, giving in a very unproductive, inefficient way."
Gerber emphasizes giving with a cause. As a connector, your job isn't just to connect. It's to think critically about what actually matters to both parties you're connecting, and to make connections that lead to tangible, positive outcome.
The solution? Something that many givers and connectors are uncomfortable with: saying no.
"The best connectors in the world say no far more than they say yes," Gerber told me.
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When not to give an introduction
As the author of a book called Superconnector, I can imagine how many people ask Gerber for introductions. How does he decide which connections are worth making, and when to say no?
He told me, "Superconnectors all have a very specific framework around the way that they help others, that's aimed at ensuring the success of all parties."
Gerber shared his personal framework with me, which has six parts, including avoiding introductions that are not rooted in reality, never providing introductions to those who are inauthentic and never overpromising with introductions that he can't confidently deliver.
One of the rules I found particularly interesting is the way he handles new relationships. "If someone asks me for an introduction to someone I met recently," Gerber explained, "I am extra careful. I need this new relationship to know that they trust my lens on who they should meet, so I always ensure that the first introduction I provide is the perfect one."
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The superconnector's mindset
Gerber emphasizes that his framework for when to make an introduction isn't the only one. What matters for aspiring connectors aren't the specifics, but the mindset behind them.
"Your goal as a connector is to make people better off," he told me. "That means optimizing for positive impact, not number of introductions."
Rather than trying to wedge themselves into every possible interaction to earn brownie points, the best connectors focus only on making introductions when that will truly lead to more success for both parties.
As a result, they're comfortable with the most important word in the connector's vocabulary: no.