Connectors and daisy chains
I'm a connector. The act of connecting two people gives me an almost ABSURD sense of satisfaction. The funny thing is, I find it even more satisfying to be part of a "daisy chain" connection! What exactly is a "daisy chain" and what does it have to do with connecting people?
When I was a kid growing up in Tennessee, I spent a lot of time playing by myself outdoors. Instead of building impressive forts like normal kids, I zeroed in on the small and focused intently on it. I would spend hours observing spiderwebs, building tiny twig condos for my ant friends, and making daisy chains. (I made them with clover flowers, but it's the same idea.)
You take the bottom part of one flower's stem and tie a knot around another stem, close to the bloom. Then you take the bottom of the new flower's stem and do the same to another flower, and so on. Each flower is both anchor for the one before it and connector to the one after it. I would often create chains with more than 20 or 30 flowers, and not even notice it was time for supper until my mom hollered.
Case study: Kate and Caroline and Lynn and Sam
When I work with clients, I enjoy building chains of contacts for them to network with. For example, at my former job I became acquainted with Kate Szumanski, a truly kind person who helps Villanova undergraduates with professional development. Kate often shares posts about her students, which is how I came to connect on LinkedIn with Caroline Foley, who then signed up for my email list.
When Caroline posted that she was relocating to Austin TX, I thought of Sam Lark, a terrific person I admired for his generosity on social media. With Sam's permission I put Caroline in touch with him, and their conversation led to an interview at Sam's company. Now she's living in Austin and working with Sam, thanks to the magical daisy chain!
A Web of Connections
There's one aspect of the daisy chain that must be emphasized. We are part of so many chains at any given moment, a better analogy might be a spider web. I always assumed a spider felt an insect fly into its web, then scurried over to investigate, learning whether it was a light snack or a smorgasbord by sight or touch.
After reading about the fascinating research of Dr. Beth Mortimer of the University of Oxford, I discovered that spiders feel the vibration first, then these amazing arachnid musicians play their web like an instrument, by plucking the appropriate strand of silk. The vibration (or sound) that they hear with their super sensitive organs, called slit sensillae, tells them the size, condition and strength of their prey, or the quality and intentions of a potential mate. This deep listening provides layers and layers of complex information.
As you may know, I'm an introvert, and one of the skills I value most in myself as well as in others is the ability to listen to understand, rather than simply to respond. Introverts are often extremely good at this skill. It involves listening, permitting what you hear to sink in, and carefully examining the implications in your mind before you answer or react. This is how a spider acquires information from its web: by listening intently and mindfully.
Now that I've geeked out over spiders, AND thoroughly confused search engines trying to figure out the point of this blog post, I'd like to tie my metaphors together.
We are all connected through a myriad of daisy chains, but we need to listen deeply in order to make sense of the vibrations that occur in our own web.
Among our connections, there are individuals who can help us, individuals who could use our help, and folks who just need us to pass information along the chain. The key to finding who these folks are is really listening. Pay attention when someone in your network needs your help. Keep your ear to the ground--or your slit sensillae to the silk--for people who might lend you a hand in the next step in your career.
While you're listening, enjoy making daisy chains and observing spiderwebs!
Learn more about Dr. Beth Mortimer's work on her web site. (If you don't like spiders, she studies elephants too!)
If you found this post helpful, why don't you sign up for my email list so you'll be part of my network? If you're not already connected with me on LinkedIn and following me on Twitter, you're invited to do that as well.
Daisy chain photo by User Ecrips on en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons.
Spiderweb photo is available by Creative Commons license and was taken by Wusel007 [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons.