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?