The moment I became a super connector…
“John! You have the sexiest elbows!”
(Sophomore English class. Long story.)
But a *close* second would have to be:
“John… you are a SUPER connector.”
I asked this individual exactly what they meant.
And their response (paraphrased) was:
“You introduce people that would otherwise never meet. And they love you for it.”
I think it was such a heavy compliment because this was something I, admittedly, was never really all that good at.
It’s definitely been *nurture* (not nature), because this was never in my DNA.
Proof: I was the guy in high school that had pockets of various friends… but I kept my relationships with each pocket isolated from every other.
The athletes didn’t know that I’d chill with the gamers.
The bubbas didn’t know that I’d rock-out with the party girls.
Everybody fit neatly into their box.
And never the two shall meet.
Ugh. How very… VERY selfish of me.
There were a lot of moments in my life that led to a change in this perspective.
But none more powerful than my first year selling CUTCO knives.
Our sales team was in the middle of something called a push week.
Basically this was a competition between teams (who were organized by territories) to see who could sell the most.
But it was so much more than that. It was about PRIDE.
Our little, no-name Ohio office versus everybody. Us versus the world.
And my manager –man, he was masterful– got us so hyped.
He gushed about what it was going to feel like to win this three foot plastic trophy.
“It’s not about the trophy! It’s about who you become in the process! On the day of victory, no fatigue is felt!”
Jump to the end of the story: we did it.
We sold a ton and beat the #2 office by, like, two hundred bucks (~2.5 knives).
It felt like we just won the Super Bowl or something.
(Up until working at Vector, I’d never known that business could be as fun as playing sports.)
The moment that impacted me the most, however, was several days AFTER the competition.
It took place in a rundown, pool-hall slash bowling ally slash pizza place.
We had gone there to celebrate our epic victory – didn’t matter that most of us sucked at bowling.
I remember inching up to the line… perching over the lane as I carefully envisioned my perfect throw…
When I casually glanced behind me.
And that’s when I saw “it.”
A team of people… that had come together in spectacular fashion… to win in business.
There were (shy) introverts.
There were (loud) extroverts.
Men and women. People of different shapes, sizes, and colors.
All there, in that bowling ally at 10:30pm on a Wednesday night.
People that would ordinarily have no reason to MEET each other, let alone care about each other and hang out together.
United under a common purpose… wrapped in a bond of deep mutual respect.
And that’s when I put two and two together: Winning at business doesn’t mean beating the other guy.
It means building the biggest community that you can and bringing them ALL with you.
(A $200 sales victory means if even ONE PERSON didn’t do their part and close their deals, we would have lost.)
(URRRGH!!! Thinking about those competitions still gets me jacked up to this day! >:)
That was the moment I decided not to prejudge my relationships.
To no longer be afraid that person A wouldn’t like person B.
That group 1 wouldn’t mesh well with group 2.
Or that I’d lose street-cred for associating with that guy or this gal.
Screw that. No more fear.
Sure, I’d be a little strategic about it — I’d think through the mutual value ahead of time (hey, don’t want to waste people’s time).
I’d say kind things about each party when making the introduction… that way they could springboard off of my genuine edification.
Maybe I’d kickstart the conversation or help create a supportive environment.
And –in ultimate Gift·ology fashion– those introductions came back to me a hundredfold.
I was giving just to give. But the more I gave, the more I got.
The more people I introduced, the more were introduced to me.
A players beget (begot?) more A players.
I became a connector.
And with years of repetition? I became a SUPER connector.
In fact, two friends of mine (Scott Gerber and Ryan Paugh) recently came out with a new book bearing that EXACT name:
** Super Connector **
With the ultra cool sub-header of: “Stop Networking and Start Building Business Relationships that Matter.”
The book was recently featured (#1) on a FORBES LIST of books-to-read to improve your connecting super powers.
Add it to the reading queue, my friends. This one will make a difference.