As a personal brand, it’s very important that you form strong connections and build close relationships with people. There are many ways you can do this, even without having to meet people face to face. Social Media is a great catalyst for people to easily connect with others in the virtual world. Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn are just a few of the many social networking sites that have gained the attention of many users. These sites have given people the ability to connect with hundreds, even thousands of other users with just the click of a button.
Of course, just adding someone in Facebook or LinkedIn doesn’t equal a relationship. Trust needs to be gained, and being personable and likeable also plays a part in forming strong personal connections. But have you heard about multiplexing? This is one of the quickest and most effective ways to obtain someone’s trust, according to Scott Allen, author of “The Virtual Handshake.”
What is multiplexing?
Multiplexing is about finding many things in common with other people. The more things, interests, passions and common friends you share with someone, the more you’re able to connect with that person and instantly feel a rapport with them.
Imagine if you meet someone and immediately discover that you both studied at the same university, you have a couple of mutual friends, and you both enjoy playing poker. It feels like you found a long lost friend because the connection between the two of you is quick and instant. There is no fumbling around wondering what to say to each other: the two of you are happily talking about your old alma mater, your mutual friends, and your passion for playing the game.
This is the power of multiplexing. Instant rapport is built through the common things you share. Social networking sites have even made the discovery of multiplexing a lot easier. Even without a face to face interaction, you can learn and talk to dozens of people whom you share common passions and interests with, immediately creating a bond between the two of you.
The “hedgehog effect”
Another interesting concept that you can utilize in your personal brand communication plan is the hedgehog effect. This concept was introduced by Jim Collins in his book, “Good to Great.” According to Collins, there are two ways that a leader can direct the company: either as a fox or a hedgehog.
While the fox is swift, energetic and wanted to get ahead with many big ideas, the hedgehog is slow, steady and focused. The fox is easily distracted, with no regard for consequences; he’s always searching for the next big thing that will earn him big.
On the other hand, the hedgehog moves in a slower pace, and his actions are more deliberate. He puts careful consideration into every plan, and he takes things one at a time. He also concentrates on what he does best, and disregards plans that don’t fit well with his vision.
Though the fox can be admired for his energy and passion, he is actually setting himself up for failure by not having any clear goals or direction. The hedgehog, on the other hand, is more likely to come up ahead. Through careful planning and consistency, he will accomplish a lot and be successful in his goals.
As a personal brand, you may have a lot of ideas in your head that you want to try. Maybe it’s the current trend or what’s popular right now, but before you throw yourself headlong into your plans, it’s important that you focus and assess the possible gains and losses that you could encounter.
Who should I focus my networking efforts on?
Be the hedgehog and focus on the people that you multiplex with and have common ground to develop your relationships and networks faster. Why waste your time in having to go through so many arduous steps to develop trust? If you spend time and focus your efforts with those that you have several frames of reference, you are working with people where you already have some common trust that you can use to catapult stronger relationships with them and their sphere of influence.
So before you go to that next “meet up” or connect with people on a social network, ask yourself – Who do I already multiplex with here? Does it make sense to be here? And, an even better tactic would be to look at who you multiplex with and what are the top 10 commonalities that are predominant amongst all your contacts. Now, focus your efforts there. Look for ways to support those groups, organization, platforms or events – be known and be valued.
Maria Elena Duron, is managing editor of the Personal Branding Blog, CEO (chief engagement officer) of buzz2bucks.com – a word of mouth marketing firm. She helps create connection, credibility, community and cha-ching through mobile marketing and social commerce around your brand. She is co-founder of #brandchat - a weekly Twitter chat focused on every aspect of branding.