As a member of Xennial Nation – that nuanced demographic between Gen X and Millennials – Boston-based business ignitor Ryan Paugh resists typecasting, especially where his skill of cultivating social-based communities is concerned. First, he’s a self-described introvert. Yet he’s made a career of guiding individuals and organizations to purposefully pursue relationships of mutual benefit for career and business upside. His secret sauce? Quality and discernment over the less meaningful metric of questionably valid ‘followers.’
Debunking conventional ‘networking,’ a word he thinks should be retired, Ryan has now added the book, ‘Superconnector‘ to his portfolio of influential entrepreneurial tribes. When she saw it on Entrepreneur.com’s top reads for 2018 list, Loring Barnes, APR, PRSA Fellow, sought him out on LinkedIn to ask how all of us can become more successful at creating connections that count.
Q: There are a lot of gurus who write about connecting, and there are influencer-like
bloggers who actually do it, like Gary Vaynerchuk. As a networking expert, who are the voices you’ve turned to, whose wisdom you respect or find affirming to your own? Do you have some top podcasts that impart wisdom about networking?
A: Jayson Gaignard is someone who we really look up to. He’s the founder of The Community Made Podcast and has been touted as being two-degrees of separation from everyone you want to meet. He’s a master curator in the entrepreneurial world, but his lessons can help reshape any community into something better than it once was.
Believe it or not, we all know “superconnectors.” My favorites aren’t the ye olde internet celebrities you might expect. In the book, we showcase a wide variety of relationship-building all stars from a CPA in Homestead, Florida to a successful home services contractor in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. We want people to read this book and think, “I can become a superconnector too.” Anyone who tries can attain this.
Q: LinkedIn is the essence of a networking democracy. Still, too many people don’t use it, or don’t use it to maximum effectiveness. What advice would you give them that is actionable?
A: Video is the hot new thing on LinkedIn and using it seems to boost higher search algorithmic weights, or more simplistically, raises your visibility. It’s as simple as using your smartphone to post commentary or insightful musings that shares your knowledge and your charisma.
Q: Do networking successes break down along gender lines? If so, how and what advice do you offer in your book, ‘Superconnector’, that makes networking an easier, more familiar memory muscle?
A: I can only speak to my experiences as a man, but it’s clear that many women don’t feel like they’re playing on a level playing field in business. I’m sure to an extent that imbalance relates to networking success (or failure) as well.
The good news is that superconnectors, our new archetype for relationship-building success, see gender as a non-factor. They investigate someone’s story below the headline, or in the “gray area.” You have to be the Sherlock Holmes of discourse to really make a powerful impression. So, whether you are reaching out cold to a CEO or entrepreneur (a rising number of which are women!), its likely your demonstration of that under layer of their biographical information that will make your overture more likely to bear fruit.
Q: What is your daily networking routine? What do you read, how many outreaches do you make? How do you measure the return on your time?
A: Connecting is fun and rewarding, like a puzzle. That’s why I outline a disciplined approach to it so that anyone can reap the benefits without having it overtake your day. I restrict my travel radius for introductory meetings. This allows me to actually give back more of my time to family and community.
I’m also both strategic and immersive in planning how to network at meetings, receptions and conferences. This all starts with self-awareness. I’m actually an introvert, and I know that I won’t thrive as a participant in a crowded networking event without a plan. But at in a smaller group, like a dinner, I can be a terrific guest who emerges with some very viable connections. Knowing yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, and where you thrive is so important to making meaningful relationships.
Q: Will networking continue to evolve? If so, how do you see it changing in the future?
A: Social media has been a blessing and a curse. It’s important to understand the distinction between connected as a profile hyperlink, and evolving a purposeful relationship with someone who you come to know, reciprocally. Data shows that we’re beginning to see a preference shift from open networking to more focused curated environments where with a greater likelihood of meeting great people because thought was put into who’s actually in the room. I expect to see this trend continue in years to come. Knowing how to approach these situations is going to make it far more likely that you’ll advance your pitch, open up a dialog or even open the door for a future job discussion. We spend more time planning vacations than we do planning our networking. But if we reversed that, we’d have more time for enjoying vacations that are made possible by our networking success.
You can read the first chapter of the book HERE!
About Fast 5
This is a feature of PRSA Boston’s Hot Topics blog page. The expert subject is someone who is clearly in demand, on the go, and nailing them down for a conversation is about as easy as … winning Powerball at $1.5 billion! But we know leaders like to share, so check back for insights, wisdom, author’s books about to hit the stands and other valuable tips. @prsaboston #prsabos
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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author or the individual being interviewed and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of PRSA Boston, PRSA National, staff or board of directors of either organization.