You’ll have heard the saying “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”, many times before, & while I’m not one for clichés, it perfectly illustrates what I’d like to talk to you about today: Super Connectors. If you haven’t heard this term before, I’m referring to a person who makes & maintains contact with lots of different people, in lots of different sectors. These aren’t just social media contacts, they are lasting, meaningful relationships. Being a super connector isn’t just about knowing the right person, however it is about having a genuine desire to help your network, regardless of whether you can see a direct benefit to yourself.
While connecting two people might not result in a benefit to you immediately, becoming known as someone who can make the right kind of professional relationships is of huge value. In turn, people will reach out to you for your trusted & respected input. This in turn leads to opportunities for you & your business. So, how do you become a super connector?
Strength in Numbers
When it comes to networking & connections, a generous helping of good, old fashioned community spirit is exactly what you need. This is just one of the aspects where Business Buzz can support you. With its community centred format, Business Buzz gives you the platform to connect with both local & regional business owners, fully encompassing the local community:
• Each Buzz serves the town it is in & the immediate surrounding area. As business owners from the same location, you automatically have common ground & the perfect foundation from which you can build meaningful connections.
• Buzz events can form clusters with other local Buzz’s. This means your community grows from being your immediate area, to the surrounding areas. You can benefit from the local community feel as well as the opportunity to cast your net slightly wider.
• Each local Buzz community is then connected regionally & inter-regionally so you will get to meet lots of fresh faces, & start building connections locally & regionally.
A benefit of making connections in your local community is the ability to meet face-to-face. While I think in-person meetings always allow for greater connection & understanding, there is no denying that virtual networking allows people who might normally be restricted by time or distance to start their networking journey, & to maintain a consistent approach.
Business Buzz is here to support both of those options. Our Face-to-face events for Northamptonshire provide a pronounced ‘local’ element. To complement our town centre-based events (which, as part of the Buzz ethos help drive additional footfall to our high streets & allow us to work with & promote a local hospitality or leisure venue) each region will be introducing a virtual monthly event - meaning that the local communities are better connected through our mix & mingle format in both the online & the real world. Thus, providing improved regional, inter-regional & national opportunities to network & grow business connections.
Super Connecting Skills
Hosting a Business Buzz event puts you on the road to super connector status. As the host of a local Buzz event, you’re the friendly face that welcomes everyone as they walk through the door, & the person that everyone would like to connect with. With the application of the Buzz 3-2-1 Principle super connecting becomes second nature.
Each Buzz is run by a local business owner, who becomes an integral part of their Business Buzz community, finding new colleagues, building amazing working & collaborative relationships, developing a better way of working based on meaningful relationships rather than quick sales & forming new lasting friendships that transcend the business opportunity.
As the host, it is your role to get local businesses involved, elevating their profile & putting steps in place for them to become a potential local event sponsor. This really speaks to those super connector skills that I’ve been talking about, as helping & connecting other businesses positions you as a trusted, well-connected & respected business professional.
My Networking Challenge To You…
… is to visit the same local Business Buzz for SIX months consistently? This commitment of time will put you on the road to becoming the face of your sector at your local Buzz. Below, I’m going to outline the specifics of the challenge:
• Place one Business Buzz event at the heart of your networking & make the most of the opportunity it offers,
• Add the events for the next six months to your diary. Remember each Buzz takes place on the same day each month, at the same time & in the same location,
• Don’t shift Buzz for something else. Make it an anchor in your business,
• Be clever & build your networking activity around your favourite Buzz event each month,
• Schedule a 1-2-1 before your favourite Buzz with your guest of the month, whom you are bringing along,
• At the event focus on your guest to show them the ropes. It’s a great way to help you overcome your own networking nerves,
• Buzz operates a “Bring A Guest” policy; invite someone who is new to Buzz (not just the event) & then either you or your guest can visit for free (in-person events only),
• Arrange a 1-2-1 in the Buzz partner venue with a contact from the previous month immediately after the event, then you’ll both be there for your favourite Buzz,
• Follow the 3-2-1 principle completely to maximise the prospects presented by this challenge.
Don’t Be A Passive Networker
What do I mean by this? Let me explain. You go networking & meet some brilliant & interesting people. You collect their business cards or LinkedIn contact details. But what next? It is sometimes easy to get back to the office where you have a pile of ever-increasing business cards tucked away in a drawer or you have simply collected a series of new connections on LinkedIn! Out of sight is out of mind! What value did you really get from your networking excursion if you don’t follow through?
Being a passive networker means you leave the next move to someone else & if everyone else is also a passive networker then no further conversations are had, no trust is built & no relationships are developed.
As part of the Buzz 3-2-1 principle we encourage you to arrange at least two 1-2-1 conversations in person with coffee & cake, or virtually with the people you met at your favourite Buzz. Be proactive, pick-up the phone & make that call or send a LinkedIn message but be specific in asking to have a 1-2-1. Because most people don’t take this action, by reaching out you will stand head & shoulders above the rest & you will very quickly become a super-connector. Your grasp & knowledge about who your fellow Buzzers are & what they do will have more clarity.
The up-side is that you can confidently make those all-important introductions & referrals. But equally your fellow Buzzers will have a good understanding about you too, & this process becomes a two-way street, where they make introductions & referrals to you.
Don’t be afraid to ask for a 1-2-1 chat.
Words Of Wisdom
Before I leave you to get started on your super-connecting, here are a few words of wisdom:
• If you commit to your favourite Buzz each month & the follow-up, using the Buzz 3-2-1 principle then, this is equivalent to roughly 1 working day a month,
• It takes time to build trust & brand awareness in your business & for you to trust & understand other people & their businesses,
• Networking is more akin to a marathon than a sprint. Quick wins are few & far between,
• Small business owners buy from other small business owners they know, like & trust. As I have said before “It takes time to build trust”,
• A little networking done really well can deliver higher returns. Don’t attempt to be everywhere or just show your face once. You are not the face of your sector, product or service in this scenario. Someone else offering a very similar solution will visit next month & then no-one will remember who you are. Be under no illusion, most sectors are crowded & if you aren’t committed to your favourite Buzz, another more committed small business owner will steal your sector’s crown.
Practice Makes Perfect
It takes time to become a super-connector. There are very few business owners for whom this is intuitive. It is a skill & must be honed. If you drive, the first time you sat behind the wheel with your driving instructor, you probably knew very little about what is really involved & even if you did I bet you had a series of sessions to get you ready for your driving test. Only after which, the real lessons in driving start when you are let loose on your own. Crafting your networking & connector skills is no different.