The Role of Connectors (like @JeniseFryatt) in Social Networks

September 22, 2012

Introduction

In “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell, there’s a chapter called “The Law of the Few: Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen.” Gladwell introduces us to the concept of a Connector, “people with a particular and rare set of social gifts,” and he describes the most famous Connector in U.S. history: Paul Revere.

On the evening of Paul Revere’s famous ride (“The British are coming!”), a fellow revolutionary named William Dawes set out on a similar ride, but along a different path. Dawes’ ride, however, didn’t alert the community in the way that Revere’s did.

Local militia leaders were not awoken and compelled into action. It was a Connector like Revere who stirred people from sleep and rallied them to action.

10 Characteristics of Connectors

In the rest of the chapter, Gladwell tells the stories of modern day Connectors. By way of these stories, we come to learn common characteristics of Connectors:

  1. “An instinctive and natural gift for making social connections.”
  2. “More of an observer, with the dry, knowing manner of someone who likes to remain a bit on the outside.”
  3. Simply likes people, in a genuine and powerful way, and he finds the patterns of acquaintanceship and interaction in which people arrange themselves to be endlessly fascinating.”
  4. “Connectors are important for more than simply the number of people they know. Their importance is also a function of the kinds of people they know.”
  5. “People whom all of us can reach in only a few steps because, for one reason or another, they manage to occupy many different worlds and subcultures and niches.”
  6. “Finds everyone interesting … have some instinct that helps them relate to the people they meet.”
  7. “We rely on them [Connectors] to give us access to opportunities and worlds to which we don’t belong.”
  8. “Gregarious and intensely social.”
  9. “An uncanny genius for being at the center of events.” [in reference to Paul Revere]
  10. “They see possibility … while most of us are busily choosing whom we would like to know and rejecting the people who don’t look right…”

The Social Web’s Paul Revere: Jenise Fryatt

Chances are you know this person. Her name is Jenise and she’s a Connector. I “met” Jenise via Twitter – she’s quite active there (@JeniseFryatt), but also connects with people on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and elsewhere.

If the “British are coming,” I’d want Jenise to be the one on that horse, shouting from the rooftops (and of course, she’d probably go on Twitter first, where she’d immediately receive 100 retweets).

When I got to “The Law of the Few” chapter while reading “The Tipping Point,” I said to myself, “Connector? You’ve just described  Jenise.” Coincidentally, Jenise recently wrote a piece on the Cvent blog about ways to think like a connector.

I had the pleasure of meeting Jenise (“in real life”) at PCMA’s Convening Leaders conference earlier this year. Prior to that, I had developed a friendship with Jenise entirely online. All ten of the Connector descriptions (above) apply to Jenise. Here are examples of how Jenise connected me to others (people, opportunities, etc.):

  1. Received mentions on Twitter (by Jenise) for #EIR. At first, I didn’t know what “EIR” stood for. Jenise was interviewed on Liz King’s blog and provides the background behind “Engage, Inform, Retweet.”
  2. Was asked by Jenise if she could re-publish some of my blog postings on Engage365.org (at the time, Jenise was that site’s Community Manager).
  3. Connected me with other users on Twitter, whom I otherwise would not have met. One example: Michael Eliopoulos (@TheReelMJE), with whom I exchange thoughts on the world of sports.
  4. Invited me into a “tribe” of event professionals on Triberr (a neat service that allows our “tribe” to share and promote each other’s blog postings).
  5. Jenise has an active and widely read blog called “Sound n’ Sight” and she often publishes guest posts from industry professionals. Jenise recently published a Q&A with me about blogging.

The Role of Connectors in Social Networks

For me, Twitter would be a far different (and less enjoyable) experience without Connectors. It’s through Jenise that I’ve met so many people on Twitter, both in our industry and outside it. In fact, when I met Jenise at Convening Leaders, I decided to join her group for dinner one evening, as I knew I’d have the chance to meet a bunch of other interesting conference-goers.

Let’s consider the role that Jenise (and other Connectors) play in social networks.

Makes the social fabric stronger.

Connectors are the ties that bind our social fabric. Like the ligaments in our body (that connect bone to bone), Connectors introduce people to one another – and from there, it’s up to those people to further build and nurture that connection.

Keeps participants engaged (and coming back).

If Twitter was just about sharing links (and, sharing what you had for lunch), it wouldn’t be as enjoyable. It’s the interactions and the connections to new people that make it exciting for me. When I first access Twitter, it’s the “Interactions” that I check first, not the tweets. And that’s what keeps me coming back, more than anything else. Without Connectors, we’d all have less Interactions.

Recruits future Connectors.

For those who are inclined to be Connectors themselves, it’s existing Connectors that serve as role models. For instance, Jenise’s #EIR (on Twitter) helps to acknowledge people who are actively interacting with others. This, in turn, causes some to share their own #EIR lists (much in the same way that #FF / #FollowFriday took off). And those who compile their own #EIR lists may become full fledged Connectors some day. And the more Connectors there are, the stronger the social fabric bonds.

Recruits from outside the network.

Social network Connectors help evangelize the service (e.g. Twitter) and encourage people to join (I bet Jenise has done this). They explain the benefits of having a Twitter account (for example), but it doesn’t stop there. They’ll provide guidance and mentoring on how to get started, along with a hearty amount of encouragement. Later, they’ll connect these new users to others. And once again, the social fabric bonds tighter.

Conclusion

Connectors play a critical role in social networks. If Gladwell were to re-write his chapter several years from now, perhaps he’d analyze the Arab Spring, rather than the American Revolution. With the Arab Spring, I’m sure that Connectors played a central role in rallying their peers to overthrow governments. Ironically, Gladwell would write that the revolution will not be tweeted. But I disagree.

Note: I invite you to connect with me on .

About these ads

#eventprofs Profile: Jenise Fryatt (@JeniseFryatt) on Event Evolution and More

August 5, 2011

“Events will change, but they will also thrive because nothing is more satisfying than turning our online relationships into real-life face to face friendships”

Introduction

Jenise Fryatt (@JeniseFryatt, @IconPresentsAV) is Co-Owner and Marketing Director for Icon Presentations, an independent audio visual company that provides sound, video, projection & lighting support for events. Jenise is based in Southern California. Online, however, you can find her everywhere.

Jenise founded the #EIR movement by creating the associated hash tag and promoting Twitter users who “Engage, Inform and Retweet.” She’s a power user and influencer in the #eventprofs community, sharing a constant stream of useful resources that rivals the pace of Jeff Hurt (@JeffHurt).

In addition, Jenise is Community Manager for Engage365, an online community for event professionals that focuses on technology and innovation. She’s also a co-organizer for Event Camp Europe, taking place this Fall in London.

Thoughts on: Event Camp

Event Camp is a collection of events that was formed by the #eventprofs community on Twitter. Its mission is “to bring together like-minded professionals, to share best practices, and learn new strategies, for leveraging social media and technology to create enhanced event experiences.”

Event Camp Twin Cities (#ectc11) is fast approaching and Jenise recommends you attend. “Last year ECTC blew everyone away with its masterful hybrid event presentation,” said Jenise. “I’m happy to say that this year I will be sharing improv concepts and a game or two with the ECTC participants,” continued Jenise.

Event Camp East Coast gives event pros the opportunity to experience a completely attendee-driven event.  According to Jenise, “That one changed my life last year starting me on a new career path sharing improv games with non-performers.“

Thoughts on: Hybrid Events

Jenise attended her first hybrid event in 2010 (Event Camp).  She was immediately captivated by the power of hybrid events. “I particularly like what people like Emilie Barta (@EmilieBarta) have done to improve the presentation quality by blending platforms and including remote and onsite audiences as participants in one event,” said Jenise.

Thoughts on: Event Evolution

Jenise is excited by the movement in the event industry to “recognize and make use of the collective knowledge of our event participants.” According to Jenise, “I have performed and studied improv for several years and know first-hand that magic happens when you give a group the proper tools for collaborating and just let them go.”

I expect this model of active attendee involvement to accelerate. Millenials, who grew up with the web at their fingertips, are frustrated by passive audience models. Jenise expects to see “creativity in new technology and formats like virtual events, gaming elements in events and participant driven events.”

Thoughts on: Event Evolution for Associations

“One thing to watch is the threat that these new ways of meeting and collaborating so easily and inexpensively pose to the traditional ways associations are run.  Associations will have to evolve to remain relevant. Events will change, but they will also thrive because nothing is more satisfying than turning our online relationships into real-life face to face friendships.”

Thoughts on: Social Marketing for Small Business

To market a small business online, Jenise partakes in a steady diet of content creation. She maintains two blogs, Sound n’ Sight and Eventprov. She uses Twitter to promote her blog posts – and at the same time, uses Twitter to share related content that clients may find useful.

Jenise guest blogs whenever asked, moderates Twitter chats for #eventprofs and #Engage365 and regularly posts on Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. Like I said earlier, she’s everywhere. It’s hard work, but it pays off for Icon Presentations. According to Jenise, “We now rank #1 for almost all of our key words. And I have had many business opportunities as a result of my online friendships.”

For other small businesses looking to market themselves online, Jenise has this bit of sage advice: “Change your perception about marketing.  It’s not about one-way broadcasting anymore.  It’s about building relationships with potential clients as well as those who will help to sing your praises.”

Thoughts on: Google+

Jenise has been experimenting with Google+, noting that the most active people are the early-adopter, social media geek types. So far, she likes how Google+ combines some of her favorite attributes of Facebook and Twitter.

She’s excited by Google Hangouts, the group video feature of Google+. “A few of my online friends and I have been meeting for group video chats for more than a year and have struggled with tech difficulties on several platforms we’ve tried. When we tried Hangouts it was easy and all the tech problems were gone.”

Related Resources

  1. Web site: Icon Presentations
  2. Blog: Sound n’ Sight
  3. Blog: Eventprov
  4. Web site: Engage365
  5. Web site: Event Camp Twin Cities

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