I’m going to ask you a personal question.
I hope you’ll be honest.
How many genuine connections do you have – in business and in life? For reals?
Now, I hope you didn’t just pull up your Facebook and Linked in profiles and tally up the total of the two. I did say ‘genuine’.
What Happened to Being Genuine?
Would people call you Business Card Bob or Generous Gina?
For a more present-day reference, when you invite people to connect on Linked In - do you bother to personalise the invitation or do you stick with Linked in’s generic “I’d like to connect with you” pre-entered greeting?
What do you do with a stranger, or, someone you’ve never met but you dance in the same circles? Do you explain your purpose in connecting?
Would you do things differently if you cold called them?
I’ll be honest – I don’t like accepting invitations from people I don’t know and who don’t give me the courtesy of introducing themselves. I think it’s rude and lazy (gasp!).
I believe in being genuine. If I know who you are, and I know I can help you, then I will genuinely try and do that.
I don’t see the point in having 1000+ online connections when I have no bloody idea what they are, who they are, where they are, why they are.
What’s the point?
The Connection Economy
I like to think that for everyone I’m connected with I would genuinely invite them out for coffee if I passed them on the street. Isn’t that the point? Otherwise - aren't your 'followers' just a vanity metric?
We’re living in the connection age but people don’t seem to get it. If you aren’t connecting with the right people in the right way, you risk losing yourself in the crowd.
And by you, I mean your business. Your brand. Your bacon.
I’ve just started my own copywriting service. Yeah, it’s kind-of-a-big-deal to break waves like I do, but hey. Someone’s gotta.
But as a ‘business owner’ and service provider, you need to have someone to serve. When you’re just starting out especially, you have no business brand, no reputation, no clients.
And if you’re not willing to part with $$$ on paid advertising – you need to be thinking about a genuine strategy to connect with the right people so you can provide the right service.
How An Authentic Network Helps You
I started with my own network. I didn’t go out and spam a whole bunch of strangers from god-knows-where – I annoyed the people I already knew.
And I’m very pleased with results. I have leads. Actually, I have a booked client AND I have leads. Before I even started.
Because I’m a helpful person. I’m a connector. My connections are genuine. My eagerness to serve is genuine.
I am Generous Gina.
Alright, alright, so you think you can dance. Err… network. Great. So what, Captain Fantastic?
Business in the 21st Century is all about referrals. And if you haven’t positioned yourself to be a ‘referrable’ person/brand/business – then why exist? It’s the online age – social media.
People don’t call to complain or look up newspaper ads for contacts.
They complain on your Facebook page. They rant about you in blogs. They google the interwebs to access honest reviews. It’s too easy to research these days.
You Must Be A Connector
Connectors are people who know people. Connectors are people that genuinely want to help a sista out; there's no expectation of 'return favours' and IOU.
Connectors understand the bigger picture - they see opportunity and they embrace it.
So, how can you be a better connector? How do you become someone that people genuinely want to connect with or refer other people to?
Have you got your notebook 'n' pen? Cuz these are absolute wisdom pearls. Granny'll be jealous.
5 Characteristics of a Genuine Connector
- You're genuinely helpful. I'm always connecting people to opportunities and events and sometimes I'll go out of my way to find that opportunity. And I love it. Helping, I mean. I think it's my recruiter brain, you just can't switch that part off.
- You drink a LOT of coffee. Or tea. Again, I try not to discriminate - but #coffee. This is how you stay connected to people. You check in. Who cares if you don't get to talk about your work for one moment the entire conversation. I'll bet you still learnt something - and information is power. Get drunk on power (and coffee).
- Probably a good time to say - you use your intelligence for good, not evil. Seriously, don't withhold just to better your own position on top of this mountain we call life. Don't be greedy, it's called the sharing economy for a purpose. And your willingness to share your expertise or knowledge to help a sista get through a sticky situation will be greatly appreciated. It also makes you more trustworthy and reliable and your thoughtfulness is more likely to be returned.
- You deliver on what you promise. Honestly. This is a massive contributor to your brand. If you say you'll do something or be somewhere, you do it. That is all.
- You know your brand and you always, always, always #bethebrand. Have you asked customers, friends, clients, and family what they think of you? Would they refer you to a friend? Don't be afraid of some constructive feedback - use it to identify and improve any gaps. And if they come back and tell you you're a perfect 10, great, all-round wonderful human being, then hey! You're probably already a great connector! Neat-o!
What do you do to establish meaningful relationships with your network? Drop us a comment if you'd like to part with one of your pearls.
On a side note - if you know Business Card Bob - then maybe you should do your connectorly duty and like, totally get him to read this #itstimeBob