What does it mean to be a connector?

EndocrineWhile I didn’t realize it at the time, I began my career as a connector when I started working as the managing editor for international peer-review medical journal, Endocrine. In order for scientific discovery to move forward, scientists perform experiments, write up the results which they submit to a peer-review journal so that other people in the same field of study can review their work.

Before the dawn of the electronic age, the manuscripts were sent to three reviewers; once email and Word docs became the norm, the manuscript was often sent to five or even six reviewers. The importance of delivering timely results to the authors was one of our main goals. The reviewers review on a variety of criteria: thoroughness of the study, accuracy. and they make recommendations.

The goals were these: Deliver quick feedback (2 weeks) to the authors from a panel of experts in the field.

It was my job to identify appropriate reviewers for each of the manuscripts that was submitted to the publication. If a clinical thyroid study was submitted, who should see that? Who would be a good fit? The peer reviewer needed to not only be knowledgable about the topic, but he probably wrote articles that were referenced in the manuscript. That being said, the two should never have collaborated on a project or even worked in the same lab.

So you had to know the basics, areas of expertise, as well as peripheral knowledge about the individuals. Who would make a good fit?

Fast forward to today. Whenever I meet anyone I always think, whom should this person meet? Who would benefit from knowing this person? Who do I know that this person could help?

Like C.C. Chapman, I prefer smaller groups

networkingA couple of years ago when I read C.C. Chapman’s article, Yes, I’m Going to SXSW, But Not to Your Party, I nearly jumped for joy. He wrote that he prefers small gatherings where he can get to know people. It’s O.K. to admit that? If, C.C. Chapman can put that out there, so can I, and so can you.

When I first launched my own consulting business I was told that networking events were a must, so I attended most of the local events. And how many meaningful connections did I make, you ask? One. Noland Hoshino, with whom I’d conversed on Twitter, stalked me at an event, and we hit it off, the beginning of a wonderful friendship that even led to a business collaboration, SMO Books.

But the connection started on Twitter, and I found that if I invited my local Twitter connections to coffee, I’d be in my comfort zone, and we’d be able to have meaningful conversations. So that’s what I started to do. And I met a lot of amazing people that way.

So here’s what I’m saying: No matter what your personality type, there’s a way for you to connect with likeminded people. It may not be what everyone else is doing. Make it work for you.