Gathering business cards at a networking event is out and building fewer, more meaningful, and personal relationships is in. That’s according to Scott Gerber and Ryan Paugh, authors of Superconnector: Stop Networking and Start Building Business Relationships That Matter.
Gerber and Paugh say most professionals have lost sight of networking’s original purpose, which they describe as building a mutually beneficial relationship with another person and maintaining that relationship for the long term.
The people they’ve dubbed “superconnectors” want to build authentic, long-term bonds with others that can ultimately yield what we’ve come to think of as traditional networking outcomes — guidance, mentorship, and job opportunities.
“A successful connector knows there’s more value in leaving an event with one new friend or acquaintance that you can develop a mutually beneficial relationship with than contact information for 50 people who didn’t spend any time getting to know you,” according to Gerber and Paugh, who co-founded The Community Company.
They say that connecting — and building communities — is about finding out what the other person needs and how you can help without expecting anything in return.
And there’s research to back up some of their ideas. According to a LinkedIn survey, 70 percent of professionals want to use their communities to find jobs for others who they know personally. That number is significantly lower — a mere 10 percent — for people with whom they don’t have a personal connection.
But how can you make those personal connections?
Gerber and Paugh suggest starting with a look inward. “It really starts with getting to know yourself,” Paugh told Entrepreneur in an interview. “Before you can really get to know other people and get to build great relationships with them, you have to understand what kind of person you are and what ways to build connections in your life are going to work best for you.”
Another piece of advice from Gerber and Paugh is to use technology as a networking enhancement, not as the destination. “I believe people conflate being connected with being a connector, and those are fundamentally different principles,” Gerber told Entrepreneur this month. “Technology should be used to amplify your community, but it’s not your community itself.”
Who are such “superconnectors”? The authors’ list includes psychologist and Wharton Professor Adam Grant, whose recent New York Times opinion column, “No, You Can’t Ignore Email. It’s Rude,” hit a nerve with readers.