Are You a Connector?

Ever since moving to Chicago I’ve been fascinated by stories of how good friends met. It was on my mind long before the ideas for this search and blog were hatched. Probably because the moment I realized how hard meeting friends is, I wanted to be inspired by others. Or more accurately, I wanted to steal their tactics.

Some friends met at work, some bonded when they became across-the-hall neighbors, others connected at bachelerotte parties for mutual friends. I’ve heard everything from “we were set up” to “we bumped into each other at a grocery store.” The stories are as varied as the people who tell them, but they all used to make me  jealous. That could have been me.

Last night I made two girls in my book club tell me the entire story of how they met. I didn’t want to hear their usual “we have a mutual friend” info. I wanted the nitty gritty rundown of the friend of a friend of a friend who brought them together.

One of the interesting things about these stories is they always involve a Connector. As Malcolm Gladwell explains in his fascinating book The Tipping Point, a Connector is one of those people who seems to know everyone and is often responsible for two other people getting together (for friendship or otherwise.)

You’d think that a Connector should be the really friendly type, the person who prides herself on being BFFs with everyone she’s ever met. But I’ve found that a connector isn’t necessarily the life of the party. She can be the quiet one, as long as she’s interested in the people she meets. She collects new acquaintances like your son collects baseball cards.

As my fellow book clubber was telling me the story of how she met one of her BFFs, I watched her suddenly realize that a certain old friend was almost always responsible for the new friends she made.

“It’s so weird,” she says. “’Cause she’s not especially social.”

When I first read The Tipping Point I was definitely not a connector. I knew some people, but not enough to qualify me as a girl who brings people together. These days, after a year spent meeting all the potential friends I could, my Connector rating has gone up significantly.

And this isn’t all just in my head. Gladwell has a really fun exercise that allows you to assess whether or not you are a connector.

So? Are you usually the connector or the connectee?

8 Comments

Filed under The Search

8 responses to “Are You a Connector?

  1. According to Malcolm’s test (I’ve read all his stuff, so we’re on a first name basis – wink), I am a Connector, and I consider myself to be quite social too. But I’m also the girl who has 100 girlfriends that I occasionally go out with, with whom I always have a good time, but very few close friends. So maybe that’s where my Connector status comes from – it’s a numbers game.

    I feel like I’m bragging when I say this, but when I look at some of the girlfriends I’ve introduced to each other and see announcements of their collaborations, I can’t help but smile in memory of the party I had where they met or the breakfast I hosted where I introduced them. So many women are helping other women that I “hooked up,” I love it.

    Then I wonder if they remember I’m the reason they met? Or would they have met anyway and I just sped up the process? Does it matter?

  2. Joanna

    Thanks for posting this quiz! I had read the Tipping Point and wondered about what exactly makes a connector. Sadly, I’m not one of them :-)

  3. I’m a connectee and my connector just moved to the other side of the country.

    *sigh*

  4. Amalia

    I’m the connector and totally agree I’m by far not the life of the party or the social butterfly. However, I do have a deep caring for those I meet and try to listen intently and think how can I add this person to my life. Sometimes its a matter of I think this would be a good contact for another friend who is the job market and this new friend is currently employed in that profession. Networking at its best.

  5. Melonie

    I think I’m a connectee. When I think of my best friends, we always met through someone else. I met my oldest BFF thru her brother who was a friend of a friend. I can thank my realtor for another one since she was responsible for making us look at a house out of our price range. Turns out, the owners were just trying to weed out the flakes. We got the house at a reasonable price and one of the owners is now one of my BFF’s.

  6. Elise

    Hey Rachel,

    This is a kind of tangential question, but how did you find your book group? I’m new to Chicago and would LOVE to find one to join… both to expand my reading horizons and to expand my friend group!

    Thanks!

    • Hi Elise,

      I am actually in two book groups. It took me two years to find them! The first invitation came from a friend of a friend. The other was my husband’s coworker. It was funny, for so long I couldn’t find a book club anywhere, and then when I started this search and began meeting more women it felt like book clubs were bonking me on the head.

      My two best suggestions for finding book clubs are:

      1) Tell everyone you know that you want to join one. You never know who might be in one or know someone who is. I got into both of mine because I made VERY clear to everyone that I was looking for a reading group to join.

      2) Meetup.com When I first found meetup i signed up for four different book clubs on it, until I realized that it might have been a bit ambitious. They have every kind of book club you could want — all female, co-ed, children’s book, classics. I know plenty of women who have found successful book clubs that way.

      Hope this helps!

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