Meet Ben Jones, 2022 VFC and RBC Fellow. He is currently working as a CPG Partnerships Lead at BUGGY.CA, a company that enables you to order groceries and essentials in as fast as 15 minutes.
What does being a Connector mean to you?
Being a Connector is just about understanding that nothing gets done alone. I consider myself to be someone who’s very much willing to go against the grain, but at the same time, you never truly do it without some sort of support. Being a connector is about understanding what people want, and what you have to help those people. On the flip side, it’s about understanding what you want and then figuring out how to engage with others such that we’re all providing value for each other to achieve our goals.
Ultimately, I think if you focus and frame your thinking around how you’re going to help other people, rewards will end up occurring to you as well.
What are things that you engage with to keep you inspired and motivated?
I always like meeting people who “made it” because they always have big networks. Secondly, when you connect with other people, you learn that even people who are really powerful or successful are still very, very human. They might be very hard-working, but they have exactly the same flaws that everyone else has. I find it powerful to see that because it reinforces to me that there’s no reason I can’t achieve xyz.
I like to stay around other people 1) to see what’s possible, and 2) to get a better understanding of how they did it.
Finally, just find your own personal reason “why”. For me, I know there’s not a lot of good people in the world. And while I know I have many flaws, I’d like to think that I can make a positive impact in a way that many people can’t. That, for me, is my reason.
If everybody has the attitude of “It’s not my job, it’s not my responsibility”, then nothing gets done and nothing positive happens. Ultimately it eventually becomes someone’s job at some point, and I’d like to put my hand up for things when I think I’m qualified to handle the issue.
What’s one piece of advice you would leave for someone trying to step into becoming a connector?
Don’t force it. When people hear “networking”, they think they need to rush out to networking events. I’m not saying that’s necessarily a bad thing, but if you do it in an organic way I find it’s much more valuable. I find the best sort of connections I have are through longer-term working relationships with people.
True, deep quality relationships are built through exposure and working with someone for a long period of time and making sure you have multiple positive touch points with the person. Rather than being nice superficially at a networking event, actually send the follow-up. I think that’s how you go and become a Connector. Don’t rush, don’t force it, and focus on quality over quantity.
How do you think Connectors can thrive in an entrepreneurship environment?
I think every entrepreneur has to be connected. Even if they’d like to think of themselves as the entrepreneur who doesn’t have to talk to people because they’ll just design beautiful code and magically get annual recurring revenue, that’s a myth. You have to at least have a partner in your business, and you have to understand what their motivations are so that your business is going to be sustainable.
I think Connectors are essential in entrepreneurship. One of the issues they often have, though, is dealing with the confrontation side of entrepreneurship since there’s a tendency to want people to like you. Connectors have to remind themselves that it’s not personal; you’ll never have everyone like you, and actually, you shouldn’t try to because when you try to work with everyone, you’ll end up working well with no one. Don’t wear yourself too thin or worry too much about what those more marginal connections and relationships will do for you.