Monday, September 26, 2011

The Connector Strategy

By Michele Woodward, Master Certified Coach & Instructor

I cannot believe I haven’t written about this before, because I talk about it all the time. In classes, in coaching sessions, in workshops, possibly even in my sleep – I hammer the importance of The Connector Strategy.

The Connector Strategy is the most powerful tool you can possibly use to get what you want.
I imagine I have your attention now.

First, the back story. In his book, The Tipping Point, writer Malcolm Gladwell tells the story of the way epidemics and fads start. Almost always, at the center of something new is a personality type called A Connector.

A Connector is the kind of person who goes to a new restaurant, comes home and emails a hundred friends with his review. And suggests what they should try. And gives them the name of the maitre d’. And the waiter whose section is the one you want to sit in.

A true Connector connects for the sheer joy of it. There’s a rush from linking people with people, people with things, people with ideas. A true Connector is not involved in any quid pro quo – she just loves doing it. It energizes her. Makes her happy. [Guess who you know who's a Connector?]
A few years ago, I took the idea of the Connector and applied it to people looking for a job, and the success was immediate.

At one point, I had four clients who were previously-executive women looking to re-enter the workforce after long employment gaps. They had each taken time off to parent, and one had an ill spouse she had cared for. When I say “long employment gaps” I mean seven years. Nine years. Eleven years. Fourteen years. Those kind of gaps. You know, the “who-in-the-world-would-hire-me” kind of gaps.

In each of these cases, we identified strengths, skills, priorities and goals. We bucked up confidence. And we inventoried Connectors.

Because the average human being knows four Connectors. But if you’re a Connector yourself, you may have more than twenty in your contact list.

Once my clients identified their Connectors, they needed to activate them. Now, here’s where personal branding comes into play. I’ve written about this before, but let me sum up: Your personal brand is what someone else would say about you if asked. This is important when it comes to Connectors. Your Connectors may be your kid’s friend’s parents, or your neighbor. Or they could be someone you worked for a long time ago. Or a college friend. Or your periodontist. How you made the relationship is less important than the fact of your contact’s innate Connectorship.

You want a Connector to be able to speak to your personal brand. To your skills, your integrity, your ability to get stuff done. And if you’ve coordinated a charity event with your periodontist, she might just be a perfect advocate for you.

To activate Connectors, figure out how each likes to be contacted. Then reach out to them, and tell them what you’re looking for. This is not the moment for the lame “have any ideas for me?” This is the time to say, “I’m looking for a senior management position where I can turn around an under-performing team.”

That kind of statement is like throwing red meat to a tiger. A well-connected, problem-solving tiger.

When my four employment gap women used the Connector Strategy, what do you think happened? If you imagined that each of them were quickly employed with salaries in the six figures, you’d be right.

In a regular economy, 70% of jobs are filled by a personal referral – they are not posted in the classifieds or on job boards. In this economy, it seems more like 90% of jobs are filled this way. Makes sense – if an organization can only hire one person, they want to make sure they hire a sure thing.

If you’re recommended by a Connector, you’re more likely to be considered that sure thing.
And it’s great to be a sure thing, whether you’re looking for a new position, or a new home, or a new love relationship. All you have to do is Connect.

Want to learn more about how to identify and activate your connectors? Then become a member of the community to view the entire Career Restoration course by Michele Woodward. Check back later this week for more exciting and informational posts by Michele.

Michele Woodward is a bona fide expert in the field of get-where-you-want-to-go. A career strategist, master certified coach, author, speaker and teacher, Michele has helped thousands of executives and women like you fulfill professional goals. Before becoming a coach, Michele was the founder and president of a firm offering consulting services on marketing, strategic planning and public relations. She also has many years experience in the political arena. Michele was a leading lobbyist in Washington, D.C. and led press and media relations in the Reagan White House and for such political figures as George H.W. Bush, Elizabeth Dole and Maureen Reagan in four presidential campaigns. Michele holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and a minor in Marketing from Virginia Tech.

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