Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The Social-Spun Web: It's All About Connections

When I first told my mom I was going to study public relations, she told me that in the business world, it’s all about connections. At first, I thought that sounded a little like cheating; does that mean that people who grow up with socialites as parents are going to get to the top faster and with more ease? That’s unfair. But after observing this industry for three weeks, I realized it is far from cheating; it’s the only way to go.

The book I was assigned to read during my internship at Liggett is called The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell. I’ve only read about one-fourth of the book, but so far it is just reinforcing my mom’s wise words. Life is all about the connections you make with others; people who you can go to for advice, ideas, to lean on when you need a friend and even to find a new job. And let’s face it: Some people are a lot better at making connections than others. Gladwell says these people are called Connectors. These are the people you either want to be like, or be good friends with.

One of the exercises in the book tells you to make a list of a bunch of people you know, even if they are just acquaintances. Then try to trace them back to how you met them. Usually, if you trace your connections all the way back, you will end up with the same three or four people you know most of your friends through. And more likely than not, those Connectors are pretty successful people.

At this point in my life, I don’t consider myself a Connector. I’ve only lived about 21 years and haven’t had that many cultured experiences. And for the record, I wasn’t born into a royal family with socialites as parents. But even those people have to do a little networking of their own. So next time you’re on a plane or even standing in line at the BMV, it wouldn’t hurt to strike up a conversation with the person next to you. You never know whom you’re going to meet; it just might make a life-long connection.

Olivia M.
Program Management Intern

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