by Bruce Kasanoff on February 21, 2014
Until recently, I didn’t know that Bill Gates might owe a chunk of his early success to his mom. It turns out that Mary Gates sat on the United Way board along with John Akers, who became IBM's CEO. Mary suggested to Akers that IBM did not sufficiently appreciate some of the smaller firms in the computer industry, and eventually IBM started taking proposals from such firms, among them the fledgling Microsoft firm.
Mary Gates is an example of the best type of person you can engage: someone who already has a valuable network of his or her own. At the same time, you also want to help people who are just starting out; what goes around comes around.
Think of yourself as a talent scout. Never stop watching for people who might mesh in a good way with others whom you know.
Relationship experts will tell you that introducing others builds your network. The more people you connect, the more those people will talk about you, your work and interests, and how they can help you in return.
But I’d like to suggest there is a far more compelling reason to do this: you can make good things happen in the world around you, and doing so will give more meaning to your life.
Long ago, my wife befriended a young engineer who, like her, commuted on the train to Manhattan. When a good friend expressed a bit of concern at her sister’s choice of boyfriends, Kate immediately thought of the engineer. This wasn’t chance; she had listened closely to her friend’s stories about her sister, and she had also paid attention to the engineer’s tales about his life and aspirations.
Kate introduced them, and in return the pair invited Kate to their wedding. Years later, the couple are very happy together.
Malcolm Gladwell wrote that there are three types of people; as you probably know, he labels one group as "connectors". While I understand his theory, I refuse to believe that connecting is the province of just part of the human race. Whether you are outgoing or introverted, you are capable of recognizing potential connections between different people that you meet.
Consider these possibilities:
- Who can help another person you know?
- Who could use help from another?
- Whose personalities or goals might mesh well?
- Who lives or works close to each other?
- Who is lonely?
- Who needs a break from their kids, colleagues or routine?
Make connections. Take the initiative. Bring people together. You don't have to take them out to dinner or spend money. Just introduce good people to other good people. You will benefit in more ways than you will ever be able to count.