Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Building your skills as a connector

Close connection - Verbundenheit
Image by alles-schlumpf via Flickr
As we progress closer to the post-scarcity world, it seems that nearly everyone is developing unique skillsets. Copywriters, mobile application developers, HTML5 experts, local business specialists, video optimizers... and those are just people I met yesterday. Mix in the countless jobs and specializations that have been around for years and you'll see that entrepreneurs and business owners now have a nearly endless talent pool.

If, that is, they can find them.

That's where the connector comes into play. Connectors know people. They know the skills that people offer and have a general understanding of how that skill fits into the marketplace. Connectors understand the rules of the new economy and are keen at spotting trends. As the economy improves, the need for well-positioned connectors will grow. Do you know one yet?

Building your connecting skills

Being a connector takes certain skills. And any skill can be honed. Here are some tips on doing just that, and a call for help at the end.

  • Build a network.
    There isn't an end-goal to a connector's network. We don't have a certain number of friends or followers in mind. We don't select a handful of social networks and ignore the rest. More important, we build out network outside the online world.

  • Stay informed.
    Connectors have become masters at drinking from the firehose. Yes, it's an ungodly amount of information. But along the way we've developed techniques and adopted tools that help intelligently filter out much of the noise so we can focus on the signal. Still, it's not easy.

  • Be visible.
    It's all for naught if the people looking for a connector don't know you exist. Offer to speak at conferences. Teach at events. Lead panel discussions. Create SlideCast presentations and share them with the world. Blog! Get used to creating copious amounts of material. Think like a publisher, and share everything -- and everyone -- you know.

  • Cultivate your list.
    Here's that cry for help: I'm lousy at this part. While I'm pretty good at recalling information and figuring out who's the best person when I'm asked to make a connection, my network has grown to the point where it's no longer efficient. I tend to keep going back to the same wells. Or I see the same person multiple times and fail to remember what unique skill set they offer.


How do you cultivate and care for your list of connections?

While there are plenty of contact management systems out there, they tend to be aimed at casual relationships or sales leads. The former seems more what I need than the latter, but the latter tend to be much more robust than the former. But too robust leads to clunky, and I don't have the time to spend on that.

I want an Evernote-simple tool that I can both dump info into and quickly pull info out of. I want to know who does what, and I want to know who's doing what new thing right now. I want magic, I know that. But Evernote proved that magic in the form of advanced technology does or will exist. I'm just waiting for the application in this space. Unless it already exists and I missed it? Help a brother out!

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