5 TIPS FOR BECOMING A CONNECTOR
Talk to lots of people: First and foremost, in order to be a connector you really have to talk to lots of people. This means getting rid of your social inhibitions. I talk to people even if I’m line at Starbucks. It doesn’t mean you get into deep meaningful conversations with everybody, but by talking to lots of people you get into the habit of being a very social person. To give you an example, I talk to many surfers when I’m in the water. A few weeks back I met two who worked in visual effects. When we were surfing together, I introduced them. It turns out one of them had bid on a project at the other ones company, but they didn’t know each other. As a result I served as a connector.
Be friendly/Have good energy: This should be a no brainer. People are drawn to happy people with good energy. There’s something really infectious about it. You communicate with your energy much more than you do with your words. If you want to be a connector, people have to like you, and good energy is a guaranteed way to ensure that.
Give instead of get: One of the biggest networking mistakes people seem to make is trying to get something from everybody they meet. I know I’ve made that mistake in the past and Keith Ferrazi even refers to this type of person as “The Networking Jerk.” This is a person who has no genuine interest in the people they are talking to and you can almost feel as though they are looking for somebody more important to talk to. There’s a law of reciprocation where people feel that they should help people who help them, so you’re definitely better off giving instead of trying to get. Part of the reason I was able to master getting free drinks at certain places, is because I would bring crowds with me. But you should always make sure you give with no expectation of anything in return.
Meet lots of people: In the past I’ve given you a list of 10 different ways to meet more people. Meeting lots of people is obviously essential to becoming a connector. One thing I think you should keep in mind when meeting people is letting go of your judgment. Meet people regardless of age, race, color, or sex. Sometimes you think you may have nothing in common with a guy who’s 75 years old and for all you know he could be some millionaire investor who’s looking for a protege. Once at a hotel bar I was talking to an older guy from the south, who it turned out was a big real estate investor and seemed interested in helping me.
Join organizations/Volunteer: With the internet and the amount of information that is out there, there are tons of organizations/groups you can join. Meetup.com is full of different groups that include sports, professional groups, and cultural groups. Brian Tracy made a really interesting point about volunteer work. He noted that by volunteering at his local chamber of commerce he got connected to some highly influential people and every time his network of contacts doubled, his income doubled. If that’s not motivation to become a connector, I don’t know what is.
Anybody can become a connector. In fact if I could go back to business school, I would focus my efforts on becoming an extremely powerful connector, rather than trying to find a job or get good grades. The ROI on becoming a connector is much higher.
It should be noted there is a distinction to be made regarding equity investors. Knowing the difference between angel investors and venture capital is critical to working with and marketing to them.
With angel investors, the first very important attribute should be -- are they truly professional, accredited investors? Only work with professional investors who properly know how to manage the transaction so that it does not encumber further investment down the road. Angel investors have various motives and drivers that will get them to become a partner in a company.
Unlike angels who work independently, venture capital funds are managed by a team of people who answer to shareholders. The VC group goes out and raises a fund themselves, targeting a specific mission. By the time a potential client is being considered, there is a council of voices that must be attended to and reasoned with. So the experience is much more institutional, with layers of process. Obviously, smaller VC funds are more streamlined, but for the purposes of this discussion the difference between working with an angel and a venture capitalist is generally individual versus group.
When talking about finding capital for a business, every pitch needs to be simplified to three very basic points. All additional documents, presentations and campaigning should backup these central questions: