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Can We Be Networking Smarter?

It took a global village to grow the first one-ton pumpkin in 2012. Two years later, the world’s largest pumpkin weighed 2323.7 pounds.

In my last article for this blog, (“CPSM: Make ‘Em An Offer They Can’t Refuse!”), I wrote about three characters from the movie The Godfather, each of whom contributed differently to the longevity and direction of the Corleone crime family. My point was that each character drew on different strengths to deal with his circumstances.

As an afterthought, I mentioned that partnering with other people with similar training (a subtle little self-point) was an additional benefit of the CPSM program, and suddenly, I wanted to rewrite the whole article. Instead of focusing on expanding the versatility of an individual marketer, I wanted to talk about finding the right people to balance out your abilities with different ones of their own.

This reminded me that in the spring I had read a book called “Get Big Things Done: The Power Of Connectional Intelligence” by Erica Dhawan and Saj-Nicole Joni. In it, they present three archetypes of what they call “connectional intelligence”, and a guide for identifying which one of ten possible “role models” you fit. By developing our “Connectional Intelligence” (or CxQ), we’ll realize our potential to “Take A Dream. Add Connection(s). Dream Bigger. Get Big Things Done.”

Their definition of “connectional intelligence” is purposely broad: “Combining knowledge, ambition, and human capital, and forging connections on a global scale to realize unprecedented value and meaning”. One colorful (and timely) example of this is Ron Wallace, a pumpkin farmer who drew from unlikely and disparate sources to grow the first one-ton pumpkin. At the core of “connectional intelligence” is the idea of “connecting smarter”, which can be more directly applied to networking. That’s why these three archetypes and ten subtypes are worth another look — whether you’re trying to bring in business for your firm, do your job smarter, or trying to broaden your appeal or your reach

How Is Your Network Helping You Get Things Done?

For me, SMPS has been good for building that network, and the CPSM program has been good for deepening it through shared experience. I usually think I’m doing all I can with those things, but I could always be doing more, and tapping my network is an area where I probably need to improve.

To what extent are we really drawing on all of the available resources of our networks (not just this one)? Are we not dreaming big enough when all we want as marketers is to succeed in our jobs?

In reading “Getting Big Things Done”, I wanted to learn how to be a more effective networker – nay, business developer – and perhaps adjust my paradigm about what comes after “relationship building”. “Connecting smarter” seemed to provide a way past the familiar Networking 101 rules we all know and dare not break.

What is connecting smarter? Well, we break down into types, and we need to find people whose archetypes balance ours out; opposites attract. If you are a “Thinker”, you need to seek out “Enablers” or “Connection Executors” who can be more dynamic partners than those of your own archetype.

Can their idea of “getting big things done” mobilize people like me who are used to working alone, and used to struggling to merely get small things started?

Possibilities are endless (more abundant than ever before), and that can be addictive. But the authors point out that, amid endless possibilities for change, some changes matter more than others do. Connectional intelligence can help us be more discerning about who we work with, and what we take on. It can also help us work together to make better business cases for our desires, or bigger contexts for our agendas. The payoff is a network that is high-achieving. This is not to be confused with a network of highly distinguished individuals (high achievers, high income earners, etc.) who achieve nothing together! The promise of “connectional intelligence” is that everybody’s network – yours, mine, ours – can be equally high achieving; this vision is democratic not elitist. Our networks are democratized not stratified.

You can read a more detailed review of “Get Big Things Done: The Power Of Connectional Intelligence” on my blog. Main blog:


Self-assessments will never get old, and this book may supply you with another self-selected label that you can drop at your next cocktail hour. Read more deeply to learn how to apply these concepts to your practices, and thus recontextualize your relationships with people you’re already connected to, networks you’re already part of, and problems you already face that connectional intelligence might just bring down to size. The possibilities are, indeed, endless.


Mike Sweeney, CPSM is the Principal of Design-product Systems, which provides content development, marketing automation, and marketing management services to firms and individuals in the A/E/C industry Mike brings IT industry expertise and design studio training to bear in helping firms develop new or updated marketing materials and information systems.

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