Influencer Influenza


Influencers can be highly contagious.

Their enthusiasm infectious.


Intellectually epidemic.

They can spread ideas and movements in many ways and in many directions.

Take Gary Vaynerchuk, for example

When he sneezes out an idea people around the planet get a little tipsy.

That’s because millions of people from all over the world turn to him to curate their passion for wine.

He helps them discover new wines and better understand the wines they love.

But Gary doesn’t market to an audience. And he doesn’t manage customers either.

He leads a tribe

He does it by connecting people.

For him, it is an act of passion and generosity. More importantly, it is the fuel for a movement, not a mere marketing campaign.

Yes, Gary is an influencer.

But he’s an influencer with a lot of connected, dedicated fans. Which makes him a superconnector.

More powerful than a speeding movement

Gary is so powerful because of the way he uses new techniques to connect people, incite a movement and create change.

He does it by understanding the dynamics of a tribe.

Building a tribe is about creating relationships that are both authentic and generous.

It’s about connecting people with each other and with their common passion.

It’s about connecting them and their passion to a cause that gives them something important to do.

Hug one today

In another post, we talked about finding these elusive superconnectors.

We described how they move content faster than a speeding bullet. How they can connect people and bring new members into your tribe in a single bound.

That’s why it’s important to have one or two in your tribe. Especially if you want to add momentum to a movement.

Influencers connect

But superconnectors, like Gary, can connect your tribe to people who can become loyal fans all at once.

The old, slow, traditional way of doing that was called networking. Or worse.

In fact, the term “networking” conjured up, “the networking jerk.”

It was more about quantity than quality. It was more about using people than being generous.

That doesn’t work today

For those of us who want to harness the power of superconnectors for our tribe, there’s a simple formula.

Instead of worrying about how many eyeballs you reach, focus on making emotional connections.

Instead of asking for things, give value.

Influencers who care

“I don’t know if there’s a word that’s the opposite of schadenfreude, but it’s the opposite of schadenfreude,” says Linda Rottenberg, founder of Endeavor and author of Crazy Is a Compliment.

“Successful networkers look out for others first,” adds Elliot Bisnow, founder of Summit Series. “They listen, they care, they want to help, they want to engage.”

Superconnectors come in five flavors

Shane Snow, author of Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success, studied superconnectors. He has pinpointed five different kinds of power influencers. And then she went on to name 15 people who are great at superconnecting.

Thanks, Shane, for your article. It’s published below.

Here’s hoping that their stories will help you engage superconnectors just like them.

Type One: The Empowerer

They say it’s better to teach a man to fish than to give him a trout. This brand of superconnector’s focus is on putting fishing poles in the hands of those who lack them.

  1. Ingrid Vanderveldt
    Adviser to Dell

This Entrepreneur-in-Residence for Dell has come a long way from living in her car just a few years ago.

A business-builder and prolific speaker with a relentless schedule, Vanderveldt has made waves with her personal mission to “empower a billion women.” Through the computer giant, she matches promising women with mentorship and tools, knowing that relationship with Dell will be built organically if people are successful.

“I believe if we’re going to get our global world where we want it to be, we really need to do it through a new set of eyes,” Vanderveldt says. “We’re here to create the win-win, and if we do that, our vision is that you’re going to make way more money than we would ever make off of this deal.”

  1. Linda Rottenberg
    CEO of Endeavor Global

The author of Crazy Is A Compliment has helped thousands of struggling entrepreneurs around the world find “Social Capital” by connecting them with successful executives who’ve trod the road before.

The nonprofit’s latest stat: 50,000+ hours of mentorship brokered per year.

  1. Liz Dow
    CEO of Leadership Philadelphia

A notoriously giving networker, Dow’s philosophy for aspiring connectors: “Start doing favors for others and earn a reputation for being generous.”

  1. Jessica Matthews
    CEO of Uncharted Play

Matthews shows how inventors can be superconnectors with her electricity-generating soccer ball, Socckett. Through it, she empowers kids to come together to play, while connecting their villages to the grid at the same time.

  1. Dharmesh Shah
    Hubspot, OnStartups, and INBOUND

A self-proclaimed introvert, Shah’s managed to build a massive company (Hubspot) while cultivating two thriving ecosystems where entrepreneurs and marketers can connect and make lives easier (OnStartups and INBOUND).

He’s known as “Boston’s biggest superconnector” and he recently brought 8,000 people together at the INBOUND Summit.

Type Two: The Curator

If The Empowerer is about providing fishing poles, The Curator tries to put the right fish in ponds together, for maximum mutual value:

  1. Scott Gerber
    Founder of YEC

Responsible for popularizing the term “superconnector” itself, Gerber runs the world’s largest vetted networking club for business-builders under 40.

While his personal introductions regularly lead to seven-figure business deals–of which he takes no cut–Gerber is most proud of having built a culture of entrepreneurs who look out for one another before looking out for number one.

“The hustler instinct is, ‘I gotta get to the top as fast as I can, find the access point,'” Gerber says. “But in a situation where you have to build relationships, it takes real time. Don’t try to fake it. You can’t instantly have kinsman ship with somebody until you’ve shown the kind of person you are.”

  1. Steffi Czerny
    Cofounder of the Digital Life Design Conference (DLD)

The beloved organizer of one of the world’s largest conferences for digital change-makers, Czerny prides herself on connecting up-and-comers with audiences that will listen.

Case in point: she got both Lady Gaga and Mark Zuckerberg on stage before either was cool.

  1. Jon Levy
    Influencers Dinner

Possibly the most well-connected behavioral scientist you’ve never heard of, Levy hosts a wildly popular, invite-only monthly dinner where celebrities, business-builders, Olympians, and other superlative characters cook a meal together–but can’t talk about what they do until after they start eating, when Levy makes everyone guess what the others do.

“The problems that we face as a culture require bringing people together,” Levy says. “But the gala model is dumb. I suggest intimate events.”

Type Three: The Behind-The-Scenes Linker

Some superconnectors act more like sharpshooters, brokering high-powered one-on-one introductions rather than creating environments or providing mass access:

  1. Mitch Kanner
    CEO of 2Degrees Ventures

Founder of 2DegreesVentures, Kanner is the man you don’t know is behind some of the most splashy celebrity/product integrations in pop culture, from Samsung’s celebrity smartphones to AT&T and Kiefer Sutherland.

Kanner’s mission is to cut out middlemen and other barriers and connect talent directly to ventures they believe in and products to fans who’ll appreciate them rather than begrudge the interruption.

Though he eschews the spotlight, everyone in Hollywood seems to know him. Says Brillstein Entertainment’s Jon Liebman, “Kanner’s talent is being able to authentically speak to the needs of all sides.”

  1. Gavin Purcell
    Producer, The Tonight Show

One of the nerds behind G4’s Attack of the Show and now producer for The Tonight Show, Purcell is a unique brand of superconnector, with a legacy of introducing obscure acts and technologies to his friend, Jimmy Fallon.

“I came from a different place than a lot of the people that normally work in these shows come from,” Purcell says. “The benefit of me being here and having had a foot in this world and a foot in that world is that I can bridge those two gaps.”

  1. Alexander Saint-Amand
    CEO  of GLG

“I never really liked the word networking,” says the CEO of Gerson-Lehrman Group, which pairs world-class experts with people who need precise expertise. “I prefer conversations and teaching.”

Type Four: The Recommendation Engine

Some people simply know people. But rather than hoard their networks to themselves, this brand of superconnector prides her/himself on spreading the love–but only when it makes sense to both parties.

  1. Ankur Jain
    Founder of Kairos Society 

Once called by Inc. Magazine, “The best-connected 21-year-old in the world,” Jain is known for Kairos Society, which helps young entrepreneurs connect and tackle global-scale social challenges, and Humin, a mobile app that organizes your connections.

But he’s perhaps better known for simply knowing that so-and-so should meet so-and-so, and would you like an intro?

  1. Keith Ferrazzi
    Founder Ferrazzi Greenlight

The guy who wrote the original book on superconnecting (Never Eat Alone) is, unsurprisingly, both a human rolodex and a generous introducer. As long as, he says, the connection is going to be “authentic.”

Type Five: The Organizer

The Organizer seeks to add structure to our overwhelming connections. Thanks to social media, most of us have more “friends” than we have capacity to maintain. But beyond simplifying, The Organizer simultaneously provides access to quality new connections.

  1. Claudia Batten
    Founder of the networking app Broadli

A serial entrepreneur behind market successes like Massive and Victors & Spoils, Batten–who’s known for her generous introductions–recently turned her attention to helping people reduce the noise and help others within their LinkedIn networks with her new mobile app, Broadli.

“Broadli’s goal is to digitize the serendipity that happens when you meet that exact right person at the exact right time,” the company writes.

  1. Robyn Scott
    Cofounder of OneLeap

This enterprising bioscientist has a habit of building organizations to connect people for social good.

She matches social entrepreneurs with executives through OneLeap, orphan caregivers with teachers through MothersForAll, former inmates with dignified work through BrothersForAll, and is currently writing a book about maximum security prisoners who’ve adopted AIDS orphans.

  • Bonus: David Coleman and Zachary Levi

In 2011, the founders of NerdMachine (and talent behind the hit series Chuck) created Conversations For A Cause, wherein geeky fans can pay a small amount to meet their geek heroes from television and ask questions. And all the money goes to Operation Smile. ”

Asking Joss Whedon a question is going to be one of the highlights of a person’s fan life,” Coleman says. “Connecting people is what it’s all about.”

Want to start a movement?

So what does all this mean?

Every tribe has influencers within it. Some of them are superconnectors.

Find them. Or borrow one who has a genuine interest in your cause.

Engage them.

They will give your movement momentum.

But that’s just my opinion. What’s yours?


photo credit: ac-choo via photopin (license)