One of my favorite Malcolm Gladwell books is The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference.
Gladwell shares numerous examples of brands, ideas, products, trends, and behaviors that cross a threshold, tip and “spread like wildfire.” Three factors, according to Gladwell’s theory, are key ingredients for trends to reach a tipping point: the law of the few (certain types of people who are instrumental in creating a social epidemic), the stickiness factor (how to make the product or idea irresistible and contagious with the right messaging and positioning) and the power of context (the environment in which the message or idea is delivered has a huge impact on whether the idea becomes viral).
Gladwell identifies three types of people in the law of the few:
- Connectors are people who know everyone, have a knack for making friends and have a special gift for bringing people (from different worlds) together.
- Mavens are information specialists. They seem to know everything and have a strong desire to educate and love helping solve other people’s problems.
- Salespeople are masters at using the art of persuasion to sell anything. They know how to sell, and they love what they do.
Regardless of which archetype you or people who are part of your network fall under, the one thing that these groups all have in common is that for their ideas or products to succeed they need to build, cultivate, and leverage social networks. The number of people in your social networks is important but so is who is a member of those networks.
Research shows that most Latinos are extremely social and have extensive social networks. But are we extending our connections beyond family, friends, and members of the Latino community?
Here are some tips that have helped me expand my network:
- Join organizations that provide opportunities to meet people outside of your immediate social circles. For small business owners, investigate membership with your local chamber, Rotary Club, BNI or the local chapter of the American Marketing Association.
- Get involved with associations that offer resources to help you with your businesses or to gain skills. I recently discovered SCORE, a very affordable avenue to grow your business network.
- Do not just join these organizations but make sure that you attend the networking events held online and offline.
- Leverage your connections by asking them for advice when you need it and to make introductions.
- Deepen your connections by helping them when they need it and sharing your unique expertise. If you have the time, join a nonprofit organization and, if possible, try to get on their board.
- Select a group of 5 to 10 individuals who can serve as board of advisors. Be strategic about selecting connectors, mavens, and salespeople!
- Maintain good visibility on social media networks such as LinkedIn by actively posting, liking commenting, and asking others if you can join their networks.
- Finally, never underestimate the power of informal and in-person connections. I have met more people in my community this year than I have in the past 10 by engaging with and helping neighbors and others as I take daily walks “downtown.”
Even some of the most social people have a tough time stepping out of their comfort zones. However, to succeed and expand your business’ footprint and customer base one needs to extend one’s social networks. And, the quality of your network is as important, if not more important than its quantity.