The Exponential Value of Being a Connector

Welcome to stop #5 on the Productivity for Profits Summer Blog Tour and Giveaway!

I’m honored to be among the 7 experts who are sharing their knowledge to give you the boost you need to enhance your productivity and profit! This week’s stop is designed to teach you how to avoid the overwhelm and insolation of building a business when working as a solo entrepreneur!

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Starting a business can be daunting. When I first dipped my toe in the water, it seemed as though I was vigorously swimming upstream with no end in sight. That, combined with feeling pretty isolated by the vastness of cyber space, and working from my home office was a formula for overwhelm. Perhaps you’ve felt that way, or are currently feeling a bit lost and buried building a business all on your own.

First of all, take a deep breath and know that you are not alone! Even if off the top of your head you can’t think of anyone you can reach out to, rest assured that you’ve got me AND the fabulous ladies on this blog tour.

Secondly, I am going to share some great strategies with you so that you can streamline your business operations and start networking with the right people. You will walk away from this post and this week’s gifts armed with the tools to -

  1. free you from feeling isolated, and
  2. leave you looking like the belle of the ball in your niche.

The big secret is understanding the importance and value of being a connector.

Tapping Your Inner Connector

Wanting to build a business network and get to know others in neighboring niches, I learned that showcasing amazing women entrepreneurs was an easy and incredibly valuable strategy. Shining the spotlight on someone other than yourself is a great way to get noticed and start a conversation. And the truth is that you never know how far one conversation can eventually go. What might begin with a tweeted shout out, turns into several, followed by an email, a guest blog post or interview, mutual respect and admiration, a joint venture, and if you’re lucky, a business ally. And that’s just one strategy of many you will be challenged to implement.

When people ask me how I got started, the simple answer is that I reached out to one amazing woman at a time. What you’ll discover is how quickly connections multiply and lead you to partnership opportunities, affiliate relationships, and more.

Benefits of Being a Connector

When you reach outside the four walls of your home office, you begin to leave the “solo” feelings behind. Even if logistically you can’t meet someone face to face, Skype is one tool that has made the world a whole lot smaller. Instead of only tweets or email, you can branch out and get to know someone better computer-screen-to-computer-screen. I’ve had a blast getting to know entrepreneurs across the nation, in England, Paris, and Sydney to name a few.

A second major benefit to connecting with others is that you will begin discovering new and innovative solutions to the challenges you’ve been facing (or didn’t even know you had), and can share a tip or two in return. Connecting with an expert outside your area of specialty enables you to gain new insight into how someone else is successfully running a business, or has overcome similar business hurdles. Plus, you become a vivid blip on their radar, which could ultimately lead to more introductions, a bigger audience, and lucrative ventures.

If you think you have nothing to offer, you are selling yourself short instead of shining brightly. You have tons of amazing gifts inside! Every business owner was at one time right where you are today. How do you think they got ahead? To make things simple, below are 5 strategies you can use to become a “Connector” in your business and reap the rewards in the process.


5 Essential Strategies for Successful Connecting

Pick the Pond with the Best Fish – Are you still a bit leery of social media? Don’t let me scare you away with this first tip. Surfing social media networks is a great way to build your list of potential contacts. There’s no need to get dressed up, plan a lengthy elevator pitch or even leave your office. Social media allows you to start casually connecting. The key is to select the network that best fits your purpose. Want to connect with other business owners who share the same niche? Find out where they are hanging out (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.), and invest some time there each day watching, learning and sharing smart comments. See who others are following. LinkedIn Groups are other places to interact and connect with amazing entrepreneurs because they are targeted to specific interests. The deeper you dig, the more connections you can make.

Do Your Homework – Before introducing yourself to someone new, take the time to do your research and make a short list of interesting facts and stats about the person. People love being noticed. Get some background by Googling their name, reading their LinkedIn profile, checking out a couple of their recent blog posts, seeing what they’ve been tweeting about, and finding out what’s new in their business. Doing reconnaissance work provides you with many talking points to discuss over time. Creating a cheat sheet for those you wish to get to know better is a smart first step in actually getting to know them. Define in advance how you might be of service to this person, and even join forces in the future. As with any activity in business, before jumping in, establish your purpose and plan to see it through. As a result, your connection efforts go more smoothly and successfully.

Make the First Move – Once again, social media makes it simple to connect with just about anyone on your target list, and allow you to make first contact. Follow on Twitter, Fan on Facebook, add someone to a Google+ circle, or request to connect on LinkedIn. But when you do, follow-up with a pithy comment, share an “ah-ha” moment you had from reading something they wrote, or just retweet, repost, re-pin or post something they’ve contributed. Being thoughtful in your communications and it will probably elicit a positive response.

Be a Valuable Tribe Member – The people in my Tribe who are most visible are those who are my biggest cheerleaders, and like to comment on, or share my news. These fans stay front and center in my mind, and motivate me to take a closer look at what they are sharing online so I may reciprocate and show my gratitude. Become a valuable member of a Tribe by being active. Rather than just gathering information, take the time to become a contributor. No matter what you do, do it with care and attention to detail, always aiming for quality.

Attract Bees with Honey – One of my favorite strategies is shining a big spotlight on those I admire. There are many ways to do this, some of which I share below. My favorite way to showcase someone else is to record an interview that I may share with my audience. Not only does a guest expert gain exposure to a new audience, get their horn tooted, and have a chance to show their level of expertise, but I have the opportunity to learn something fabulous from every single one in the process.



These are just 5 ideas to get your inner connector in gear. Don’t limit yourself to reaching out. Be creative and figure out ways to draw people in, and build a Tribe of your own. Think about what your audience has need of, and brainstorm ways to creatively connect with others to provide solid solutions — Need some quick ideas?

  • Write a free ebook around a specific solution to a pain point for your audience, and invite experts with similar audiences to contribute a chapter.
  • Interview the top 3 women entrepreneurs you admire and create a how-to audio or video giveaway.
  • Join a blog tour or create one of your own.
  • Start a guest blog exchange with 5 entrepreneurs whose posts would be of great value to your audience and vice versa.
  • Read and post book reviews of authors with whom you’d like to start a conversation.
  • Or you could try something really crazy big if you’re feeling adventurous!

The end of last year I decided to raise the bar on my connection skills and hosted the 12 Days of Experts series. This program was a great opportunity for me to invite some of the most impressive entrepreneurs I knew to showcase their expertise on what it takes to become a business power player. In partnering with 12 power players in their own fields, I was able to turn the spotlight on each one, build my credibility by association, share unbelievable content with my audience, expand my audience through cross-pollination and free access to the video series, and increase my online visibility.

Was it a ton a work? Yes! But nothing of value is ever easy.

Did I learn a lot? Absolutely!

If you are ready to start leveraging the power of connections don’t miss your opportunity to get your hands on my latest ebook – Top 10 Strategies to Become a Successful Connector in Business

Click Here to Get an Instant Download of my eBook Now!

Thanks for taking time to stop by my blog! There are some more great places to visit on the tour, so stay tuned. If you like this post, I would love to have you leave me a comment below.

16 Comments

  1. PRISCA N
    Posted August 11, 2012 at 9:47 am | Permalink | Reply

    having gone through the free book you sent me, I realised that you a blessing to mothers combining motherhood, wifehood and entrepreneurship. Keep doing what you are doing, the sky is only a begining to the heights set for you.

    • Posted August 11, 2012 at 11:10 am | Permalink | Reply

      Thank you so much for your compliment! Very happy to know you enjoyed the ebook. :)

  2. workwithleran
    Posted August 3, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thank you Dr. Shannon Reece for this article. Personally, I think this material is great. I agree with much of your information here. It also motivates me to learn more. I await the next article with great anticipation…

    Being able to connect with someone shows that you really care about a person and are really truly wanting to get to know them. I know for a fact that people truly would want to buy whatever you have if they trust you, know they you care, and they like you.

    Looking forward for the next article, Dr. Shannon Reece :)

  3. Posted July 17, 2012 at 12:11 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Great post Shannon! I find so often, especially with new women solopreneurs, that they don’t feel worthy enough to be a connector. These tips are great for them to follow and jump right in the mix. Thanks for sharing your wisdom and expertise with us :)

    • Posted July 17, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Thanks Zenobia! I agree, as I was one of them for quite some time. What every woman must remember is that NO ONE has her same combination of experiences, gifts, insight and skill as she does, therefore every woman has something very special and powerful to offer. Thank you again for inviting me to be a part of your amazing blog tour!

  4. Posted July 16, 2012 at 9:56 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Great post, Shannon!

    It’s really easy to get caught up in that “solo” world, which is where I’m challenged. We have to remember that business is all about relationships and making those connections so we’ve got to have our plan to make them happen. Your post helps us do just that.

    • Posted July 17, 2012 at 7:32 am | Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for your comment, Sheila! I, too, understand the challenge of the solo, as I am still just a one woman show. That being true, I am so grateful for my connections, especially those from whom I continually learn better ways of doing business, and those to whom I can delegate the tough stuff. ;)

  5. Posted July 14, 2012 at 9:27 am | Permalink | Reply

    Hi, Shannon,

    Fantastic post! Being able to connect with others and build your network is one of the most important elements of a business. It’s never a good idea to exist or create in a vacuum, but we find ourselves there sometimes.

    I want to put some of your ideas into play right now because they are awesome and exactly what I’ve been looking for, but when I jump into my groups on LinkedIn for example, I don’t know how to initiate a conversation. I’ve even had people reach out to me and I don’t know how to keep the relationship on an evolutionary path. What ends up happening is a new connection is added to my list, but a year goes by and I realize I don’t know any more about them today than before the brief introduction.

    In a nutshell, my biggest stumbling block is figuring out what to say. I know I’m probably (definitely) over thinking it, but do you have any suggestions on how to get the conversation started after you’ve done your research and are ready to make contact?

    Thank you so much for sharing!!!

    Tylesha

    • Posted July 14, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Tylesha, Great questions, the second of which I have discussed recently with my business coach.

      Regarding your first question — how to initiate the conversation in LI Groups: I am assuming you are a member of groups where your ideal customer is already spending time. That being said, post a discussion question that is meaningful to that group and see who begins to answer. It’s just about creating an opportunity to dialog with others to find out what their biggest needs are, what they think about particular topics, etc. Your time to shine (not sell) comes when you reply to a comment submitted in response to your question. For example, I have joined several golf interest groups. I start discussions by sharing a link to a new blog post on how to overcome a specific mental game challenge, and ask a question of the group like. I recently posted an article called “Playing great golf begins with the right mindset” and posted the question “Wanting to play great golf is not enough — how are you preparing your mindset in advance of play?”

      Your second question — So many entrepreneurs don’t take advantage of building a relationship after someone willingly reaches out to connect. I am guilty of this, and am building systems to leverage the untapped potential there. The best strategy, shared by my business coach, is to have a standard reply to all requests to connect with a thank you, to show interest in them, and an invitation to get something of value from you for free (like Seth Godin’s Purple Cow book, or something that pertains to your market — you can get access to lots of free stuff on Scribd.com) They visit your webpage, opt-in to get the download (make it something really awesome), and are subscribed to an auto-responder sequence you’ve designed specifically for LinkedIn connections. This process enables the person to begin to get to know, like, and trust you. It’s not about selling. It’s about drawing people into a relationship, and giving them a taste of what you do, so at some point they think, “Wow, I need to work with her.”

      I hope that helps.

      Shannon

      PS – To give proper credit, my brilliant biz coach is Kenneth Manesse Sr., the Micro-Entrepreneur Specialist.

  6. Posted July 13, 2012 at 9:11 am | Permalink | Reply

    Shannon, thank you for this super informational post. I devoured every single bit of information on your article. :)

    I was really shy years ago but social media has made such a big impact not only in my business but in my personal life. I have learned to connect with people that I admire and have built friendships with fellow business owners.

    I did an interview series long ago and featured amazing women entrepreneurs and learned a lot from these women. Putting the spotlight on others is indeed a great strategy for getting more visibility and building relationships. Thank you so much for this wonderful post.

    • Posted July 13, 2012 at 9:18 am | Permalink | Reply

      Karen, Thanks so much for reading! I was trying to match stride with you after your amazingly content-rich post on this tour. (For anyone reading this comment you can find it here and it’s a must read – http://socialmediamarketinggirl.com/8-must-have-tools-every-solopreneur-needs/). I am shy by nature too, which is one of the reasons I love social media so much. It is a great ice-breaker. Then when you meet someone face to face it’s like you are already old friends. :) I appreciate your support!!

  7. Posted July 13, 2012 at 12:52 am | Permalink | Reply

    Shannon,

    This post absolutely blows me away! It is a wonderful reminder to me of how we should conceive and implement a networking strategy that will be effective. I recently made a faux pas in this area and wish that your post had been available prior to my interaction with the woman I am connecting with so that I wouldn’t be “playing catch up” with her now.

    I’ve already accessed your free gift and want to say that it is phenomenal as well – though I would have expected nothing less from you!

    Keep doing all the wonderful things that you do!

    Monique

    • Posted July 13, 2012 at 6:47 am | Permalink | Reply

      Monique, Thanks so much for your support and praise of the post. There was so much information that I wanted to share, but had to try to keep it a reasonable length. That’s why I wrote a new ebook, Top 10 Strategies to Become a Successful Connector in Business, to add to the giveaway to give women all the juicy strategies I have.

      Networking is work, but doen’t have to be difficult when you have a plan. My hope is that those who have been hesitant to “get out there,” even virtually, will have a renewed confidence with the steps I outlined. You are an excellent connector, so I hardly doubt that you have “catching up” to do. My strategies are guidelines more than rules, and should be customized to fit the business of the reader. There are so many other ways to connect too. Thanks for reading!

      • Posted July 13, 2012 at 9:01 am | Permalink | Reply

        I like to think that I’m a good connector, Shannon. But sometimes we get so caught up in the thick of things that we forget to apply one or more of the guidelines that you have put forth. That’s what happened to me – I forgot to ask “What can I do for you?” and I got reminded that I hadn’t done so. Not a fatal error, but I know better and I could have avoided this if I had just focused a bit more. There is also a bit of the “I’m so awestruck by you that I couldn’t possibly have anything to offer” mentality at play as well.

        I’ve downloaded “Top 10 Strategies to Become a Successful Connector in Business” and am looking forward to reading it!

        • Posted July 13, 2012 at 9:10 am | Permalink | Reply

          Yes, I think we all need to have that list of talking points in advance so that we don’t forget the important things. Just don’t be too hard on yourself. After all, we are only human. I make mistakes every day, and try to keep learning as I go. Can’t wait to hear what you think about the ebook. Would love a testimonial from the Queen of getting over overwhelm. :)

One Trackback

  1. […] The Exponential Value of Being a Connector — Working on your own, and from a home office sounded so glamorous when you were dreaming about ways to escape from your 9 to 5 grind, didn’t it? Days turn into weeks, and months pretty fast when you’ve got your nose to the grindstone 12 or more hours a day, juggling all the tasks of running your growing enterprise, and perhaps a family too. Sound familiar? (DrShannonReece.com) […]

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