Social media and technology tools make it easier than ever for us to connect with just about anyone. But connecting doesn’t always translate into true connection.
Superconnectors—an elite (but not elitist!) group of people who practice the art of cultivating long-term, mutually beneficial relationships—think about and use social media and technology differently and far more effectively than the average consumer. They’re focused on quality rather than quantity, and on true engagement rather than likes and shares.
The superconnector class, the most connected group of people on earth, takes it up a notch with a more selective and strategic approach—one that results in building trust and meaningful relationships through smarter conversations. The result: the kind of social capital that exponentially increases in value.
If you want some great examples of how not to behave on social media, all you need to do is take a look at how 90 percent of brand marketers operate. Their posts are typically filled with marketing jargon about their products or services or, worse, small talk. This onslaught of profit-driven messaging from marketers on Facebook, LinkedIn, email and other platforms has driven weary consumers to tune out.
That’s why superconnectors are moving away from the noise of big, open platforms to more intimate spaces, such as private Facebook groups, where they can curate targeted conversations among small groups of people with similar interests. Think of these private groups as an oasis, where members of a community can retreat to take a breath and be among a trusted group of peers, confident that every conversation will not be tainted with the expectation of profit. In curated, invitation-only groups, they can maximize their value and protect their time.
Take, for instance, Sloane’s List, a 7,000-plus-member, invitation-only Facebook group for posting jobs and resumes. Co-founders Courtney Boyd Myers and Ryan Matzner started the group in 2014 because people in their networks frequently sent them emails seeking jobs or looking to hire.
“I’m always really happy to help any of those people, but I’m generally not able to because I’m not good at creating a mental database of all of these wants and needs,” says Matzner. Sloane’s List was a way to bring people in their network together for mutual benefit. Initially, the invited people they knew personally, but then allowed existing members to invite others. All invitations and posts are moderated. “If we see anyone misbehaving, we remove them from the group,” says Matzner. The selectivity of the page creates a strong sense of community—a community that builds social capital for its founders.
Superconnectors know that when they put others’ needs first, the good karma flows back to them tenfold. But that doesn’t mean they expect immediate return on investment for doing something good.
“The most selfish thing you can do is give unselfishly because it always comes back around,” says Adam Rifkin, cofounder of 106 Miles, a meet-up group that helps startup entrepreneurs learn from each other.
Superconnectors like Rifkin know that some of their most important business relationships begin online and often remain largely digital. With people who may not have the benefit of knowing you in the physical world, it’s particularly to behave with generosity and integrity online.
Rifkin swears by something he calls the “five-minute favor”—an act of generosity that adds value to someone’s life and takes five minutes or less. This could mean making an introduction on LinkedIn, sharing a post on Facebook or retweeting on Twitter. Those small favors can build up goodwill and social capital over time and have the added benefit of creating a richer and more engaged community.
Technology enhances humanity
Technology can be dehumanizing, but superconnectors use it to add humanity to their businesses and lives. For instance, most of us communicate with our phones using voice, text and email, and that’s how our colleagues expect to hear from us. But superconnector Jayson Gaignard, founder of MastermindTalks, an invitation-only event for entrepreneurs, uses his phone in a way that surprises and delights.
When Gaignard feels strongly that two people absolutely must meet, he breaks his own “double-opt-in” rule and shoots a two-minute video introduction, highlighting both people’s backgrounds and explaining why he thinks they should meet, and then emails it to both of them. It works because he knows both people well, understands their goals and their personalities and can make a relatively accurate prediction that they will find pleasure and value in knowing one another. For its recipients, the video introduction feels more human, more personal and more connected because they can see Gaignard’s face and hear the sincerity and enthusiasm in his voice.
Similarly, Steve Sims, CEO of The Bluefish, a personal concierge service, often uses video text to communicate on his phone. “You get my energy, my voice,” he explains. “Recording the videos for me is far faster than typing, yet it contains so many points of communication—tone, style, passion what mood I’m in. I could be in a dungeon and take a video: ‘Hey, we haven’t talked in a while, and I thought of you.’ There’s no mistaking the context, the intent or the humanity of the message.”
Entrepreneur and angel investor Mark Suster isn’t a millennial, but that’s the demographic he wanted to reach, so he started doing daily “Snapstorms”—short bursts of video with specific advice for startups.
“Virtually none of my competitors—VCs [venture capitalists] between the ages of 35 and 55—quite understand (or have the desire) to put out content on this media channel,” says Suster on his blog. “So, it provides me with a less crowded audience than publishing on blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., where everybody else publishes.” It’s not unusual for him to get more than 9,000 views in 24 hours.
Superconnectors like Gaignard, Sims and Suster are using the same real estate as the rest of us—mobile devices, email, social media platforms—but their approach is fundamentally different. They’re using these tools to bake humanity into the conversation, to differentiate themselves from the pack and to create community. The rewards they reap may not be instant, but that’s not a problem. Superconnectors play the long game.