Last Sunday we celebrated Mother's Day, and many fond memories flooded back into my mind.  

Now that I'm back in my business persona, one particular memory jumped into my head.

You see, my mother grew up as a first generation American during the Depression as part of a large family. She had to go to work while still attending high school, and imparted many important life lessons to my sister and me growing up.

There was one in particular that resonated with me when I started my business. She would say, "Jerry, it's not just what you know, it's who you know.

So like many of you in the financial service industry, I joined a networking group, several in fact. You’ve probably been there or are there now. You meet once a week, stand up and say, "Good morning, my name is ________, I'm ________ with ________, and a good prospect for me is ___________."

With mixed results, and I kept thinking maybe there’s a better way. And I think there is. Maybe in our social media world, it’s becoming a “Connector”.

Malcolm Gladwell in his best seller, The Tipping Point, calls them …

”people in a community who know large numbers of people and who are in the habit of making introductions. A connector is essentially the social equivalent of a computer network hub. They usually know people across an array of social, cultural, professional, and economic circles, and make a habit of introducing people who work or live in different circles. They are people who "link us up with the world ...” 

Adam Grant, the youngest tenured professor at Wharton, puts purpose and perspective into becoming a connector in his new book, Give and Take: A Revolutionary Guide To Success.   

He says that his research shows that in a world in which professional interactions can contribute greatly to our success, most people operate as takers, matchers, or givers. The latter, he says, are the ones that generally have achieved extraordinary results across a wide range of industries.

My mother’s advice updated for our digital world.

Jerry Kalish is President of National Benefit Services, Inc., a Chicago-based third party administrator. He also publishes The Retirement Plan Blog ( Jerry can be reached at


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