Jay Baer let the cat out of the bag, so I might as well confess - I am a connector, and a life time one, too. Someone said on Twitter today that she wished people understood that the loudest ones are not necessarily those who are making stuff happen (I'm paraphrasing here). Many collect people, I learn about them - what they're looking for, what they're passionate about.
From strangers to friends on trains (part of being Italian and trains never arriving on time), to discovering amazing talent among people in a room crowded with voices intent on networking. I don't have a very sophisticated method, I'm afraid. No big spreadsheets or ultra-tech tools, although the human brain is probably the most sophisticated of all systems.
I just choose to observe, find out, and remember. Because I know a time will come when I'll be able to connect a dear friend with a resource, a business with a partner, an acquaintance with a job opportunity.
What do I get out of it? Why do we need to get something beyond the being helpful part out of it?
Being that we're enamored with data, I can tell you that quantity and quality of connections both matter. There is a tipping point when you begin to know fairly well a good number of people and you can help exponentially.
I started making introductions to people early in life and my network has grown organically as a result - on two sides of the pond. Community can also form from the connections made between smaller networks.
During the years when I was facilitating online conversations at Fast Company and organizing live events - yes, 98 free live events, way too many to compete with anyone doing them today - content was the determining factor for inviting the right people to the conversation. Like any good Italian meal is an excuse to be social, right?
You want to have a mix of professionals in organizations, consultants, and service providers/agencies at events. And you don't want especially to be preaching to the choir. There needs to be a nice mix to make things interesting for everyone.
One of the weaknesses of professional associations is that often there are many more providers than buyers at events, for example. Our community/network cut across professions, industries, and organization type. And it grew organically over time.
You can turn the dial with content and change results.
The other great thing is that because we had series of events, we had a great deal of diversity among attendees within the same community. We played with Legos, worked on the digital strategy for a museum and tested restaurant technology, we brainstormed with CEOs, and went shopping for the right internal communications strategies.
I summarized some of it here, the rest is what you learn with me in posts and through the connections we make now. It was never about me, it still isn't. It's about exchanging ideas and meeting people. In some cases, it's about giving the stage to anyone who decides they want to connect.
Give it time. It may not work today, but I will remember tomorrow, and the day after. I don't believe we lost the ability to pay attention to what's important - and you are important.To make the right connection, where the is a fit, takes time. But when you do, you fly, you're in "flow".
Yes, I do the welcome bit - an email on your first comment and whenever we have something to say to each other, email is the new offline. I do the the facilitation, answer questions - this post was the result of a question - the connecting - usually most of it behind the scenes - and thank often, in many languages.
Finally, as I wrote to Jay the other day, I think it ironic that my posts show such a low comment count, because they are shared and discussed in many places - I wish TypePad had thought of innovating in the direction of aggregation vs. its own sign up system.
Steve Rubel says blogging may be dead - not by a long shot. It's "and/and", rarely, "either/or". I'm with the getting to know you movement, and for that you need to actually be impressionable and have enough content to invite discovery - in one place.
As for the impressions I make, I know it takes time to notice someone else. I'm in no hurry. I'm in it for the long haul.
What about you? How do you make real connections?
[image of world's tallest Lego Tower]