Building community has always been one of the hot topics in social media. In the first post in this series we touched on some of the challenges of establishing a community with members spread so far and wide.
Today we continue the series with our second installment of Community Building for Everyone: The Connector.
What is a “Connector”?
It isn’t so much a what as it is a who. In social networking the value of a network is only as good as those involved in it. Even more valuable are those in the touch-point positions of interconnected networks, or communities.
There are many trusted connectors out there, yet only a limited space to share them here. These are the people people that are consistently making people connections. They recognize when a relationship would benefit two entities and thereby deserve introductions. What all there people have in common is they listen, read, understand and have the desire to be a connector for no other reason than how it will benefit others.
The connector has determined that those individuals “SHOULD” know each other. The recognition of the potential from the introduction is the catalyst for the choice of making it happen. As a connector there is a “high” in seeing amazing things evolve from a simple introduction. The view of the connector is that part of the value of a strong networked community is the ability to make individual introductions to benefit others, their interests and causes they share.
Why Make an Introduction?
From childhood we are taught that we should introduce people to one another, it is what is done in polite society. But when in social media, introductions carry a different weight. They are considered an endorsement of one trusted individual to another. When a connector introduces two people there is a reason behind it, and a presumed “need” for these individuals to know each other. Social networks such as LinkedIn have achieved most of their value by relational introductions, meaning a common connection is all that is necessary to recommend a connection. An automated connection suggestion doesn’t hold much value to a person other than helping amass a quantity of contacts.
Quailty Over Quantity, Always.
In a recent conversation with Follr founder Steve Fells, the topic of introductions came up. Steve made an excellent point regarding the reasoning behind making an introduction, or lack of reasoning. The point he made was just because he and I may have a mutual friend, does not mean that there will be a benefit to each of those people in being introduced. That often overlooked point is one that makes a trusted “Connector” of great value in today’s confusing network of online communities.
But why is that connection considered quality? Because the connector has thoughtfully considered a number of factors before initiating an introduction.
How We Determine Who To Introduce
If we analyzed our individual reasons for making an introduction between two entities (be it people or groups) we know there is far more thought behind that choice of action than simply the common familiarity. “I know them both, therefore they should know each other” is not a truth.
When a human being makes a choice to be a catalyst for a connect they are weighing multiple points of common interest or potential serendipity in that introduction. Some of the considerations that instinctively go into these choices are:
- How do these two individuals benefit from knowing each other?
- What are those commonalities, why are they of value to the other.
- How may these individuals both gain from the introduction.
When we consider these factors prior to making an introduction it also helps to formulate a proper introduction. You are then able to cite specific reasons for the introduction, mention potential mutual benefit, and leave them with a topic to continue a conversation with.
The ability to connect people is also a fundamental skill in community building. Just as you would connect two people, you would also connect a single person with a community. Being able to offer the valid and convincing “Why” when proposing a connection is essential to establishing a solid foundation.
Being a connector online means that you are seeking to benefit others, without any focus on personal gain or advantage. There is no value to the connector other than the pure enjoyment of seeing a serendipitous moment happen.
Recommending a connection for a community that you passionate has value, as you are inviting an individual who you feel holds the potential to be of high value to the community, or who will get value from the community.
Therefore one of highest compliments an individual can receive is an introduction via a connector. That connector has considered the factors involved in making a truly valuable introduction and therefore a lasting connection.
Who are some of your favorite connectors? We would love to know who you rely upon when it comes to connections, introductions and word of mouth recommendations.