Connectivity: building business relationships that matter
Today, and especially in business, we need to focus on identifying, relating to, and integrating with a multitude of new and changing communities, using each to further expand and strengthen the fabric that connects and surrounds us.
We are seeing just how much networks matter to advancing a field; whole industries rely on communities working together to arrive at insight and innovation.
We can’t just think in terms of individual innovation any more. And that means we have to think even more carefully about our connections to others.
In addition to asking: “What can I do to influence my outcome?” we must also ask: “What communities do I create or involve myself in, to ensure that I continually increase and reinforce my bonds with others, so as to have the greatest propensity to increase the quality and quantity of my outcomes?”
In their book, Superconnector: Stop Networking and Start Building Business Relationships that Matter, Scott Gerber and Ryan Paugh focus on the idea of surrounding ourselves with “information brokers” at the highest level, people who are constantly learning about others and constantly making good judgments about how to connect people to one another in mutually beneficial ways.
They are high energy, high touch, high relationship people. Besides thinking of them as a Superconnector, you probably also think of them as a close friend, a confidant, part of your trusted circle, someone in whom you happily invest time, visit in person, and so on.
Superconnectors establish and sustain networks by three primary means:
1. The art of selectivity. Superconnectors aren’t playing numbers games when they accumulate connections. They are focused on quality above all else.
2. The power of association. Superconnectors know the power of being anchored to people that are solid and trustworthy. Often, they are mentors or gatekeepers, adding credibility and value by effectively linking trustworthy people to other trusted people.
3. Habitual generosity. Our biggest and best Superconnectors are believers that what you put into the world is what you get out of it. They are habitually generous and know that what they put into the system will manifest back positively in some way or other.
There are two other core practices in business that can help tremendously when it comes to expanding the quality and power of your network. I want you to think of these as a form of an operating manual for connective success – something that if honoured will ensure your system provides optimal performance, and if ignored can result in an embarrassing crash.
The first principle is one that I consider as foundational for interaction with any other human being: “Take only what you can give” – which means do not engage in the building of any relationship without the certainty that you can deliver real value to the other person BEFORE you expect anything in return.
This requires active listening, where your focus while engaging with them is not on figuring out how to get what you want, but rather on helping them get what they want.
When practised well, this also requires that you limit the total number of connections you have to ensure you can always deliver real value only to those that you are engaged with. The best connectors in the world are constantly trimming any underperforming relationships, making room to focus on new and better ones.
The second principle: social proofing, is a process that entails the transfer of trust. We look to certain others around us assuming they know more than we do, and we trust their advice and recommendations.
Having relevant social proofs encourages people to have confidence in your brand; if you’re trusted already by third party experts, references, award winners, or people you admire and want to be associated with, why shouldn’t others trust you, too?
Social proofing can happen through word of mouth, but it can also come through actively going after press and respected media outlets and working with them to emphasise industry recognition, product merits, and other qualities that might attract third-party stamps of approval. Nothing speaks more about how great you are, than someone else saying it.
One final tool that can help connect your network and your business is something I call LIT Loops. You may have heard these called Needs and Leads sessions. In a Lit Loop, a facilitator gathers a group of people into a circle, and everyone gets to identify one need; then everyone else in the group in turn is invited to generate their absolute best response to that need (a lead).
Once everyone has responded and the loop is closed, the person who made the ask recognises each and every lead, and the group builds accountability pairs for follow-up; the pairs then work together to determine the best answer or solution.
Then it’s on to the next person in the circle, and so on until everyone has had a turn. LIT Loops are a powerful technique for building networks of solutions – and understandably they require great processes and facilitation skills. If you wish to learn how to run your own LIT Loops, please ask us at email@example.com.
In closing, I have one final analogy worth keeping in mind when it comes to enhancing networks and connectivity inside your business.
Remind yourself that businesses are built much like sports teams. In other words, the players on sports teams come in for contracted periods of time. There’s a similar benefit to having some employees move on after their contracted period of time.
Not only will your company have benefited from their association whilst working with you, but if you invested in them and their careers, they become incredible advocates for you after leaving. (Think how powerful Glassdoor reviews are). Acknowledging shorter time spans up front and offering employees an amazing experience after which you’ll help them find their next jobs is fast becoming a new way of promoting employees and expanding business networks at the same time.
Much of this material was taken from Stuart Lacey’s book, The Formula For Luck: Leave Nothing To Chance and a foundational part of the work done at the Bermuda Clarity Institute. If you would like to learn more about the organisational research that we do at the Bermuda Clarity Institute, visit https://bermudaclarityinstitute.com