Aug 14 2018

Collecting and Connecting Dots

A year ago, Brad wrote a post titled Effective Networking, where he discussed how producing good work can be a useful mechanism for building meaningful connections. While power-networking can also be an effective strategy, it is not the only path to developing great relationships. Brad’s post was heavily influenced by two essays by Adam Grant, the professor and writer: Networking Is Overrated and To Build a Great Network, You Don’t Have to be a Great Networker.

I savored that post earlier this year when suffering from a bout of conference fatigue, and decided to write about it in a post titled Introverts and Networking. I have found that the most meaningful professional relationships in my life have typically sprung out of a common appreciation about something that I or the other person did—not from hitting it off in a conference lobby or at the post-event reception. That has happened of course, but it’s not the dominant theme, at least for me.

Because of this, I was excited to discover this recent TEDxPortland talk: An introvert’s guide to building community, given by Rick Turoczy—a leader in the Portland startup community. The talk is not about how introverts per se can build community, but rather, how he as an introvert used some counter-intuitive advantages that introverts possess to do this type of work—namely, a desire to make connections one-to-one, or what he calls collecting dots.

But for Turoczy, this is only the beginning. The real magic of building community occurs not through the collecting of dots but through the connecting of them. By collecting many dots, and through the power of introspection and patience, community-builders will begin to see patterns emerge—uncovering dots that need connecting but haven’t been yet. These connections will eventually seem obvious, but aren’t at first—otherwise they would have already been made. It is the process of collecting and reflecting—along with your own unique perspective—that the connecting naturally unfolds.

For me, the real beauty of this talk is what it reveals about Turoczy himself—he views the process of networking not as a means for helping himself, but as a means for helping others. And that’s the whole point of building community. It’s almost certainly a key reason for why he is so good at it too.