The Clever Connector: Summary & Review

the clever connector book cover

The Clever Connector Second Edition is a 6-chapter book on business and professional networking in which Ali Scarlett, the author, teaches how to network with high-status elites without needing to be one yourself.

Bullet Summary

  • Be High-Power/High-Warmth: Building connections starts with knowing where you fall on the stereotype content model (HP/HW matrix) and working on your character to get to the best mix
  • Acquire empowering mindsets: Effective networking starts with personal development, including effective mindsets to empower one’s own efforts and capability
  • Principles above techniques: Prioritize high-level networking principles over micro-level techniques
  • Focus on value-giving and moving to deeper touchpoints to advance a new relationship quickly
  • Recruit one or more mentors to help you in your journey

Full Summary

About The Author:
Ali Scarlett is a bestselling author, entrepreneur, and avid researcher of the science of networking. He has studied the likes of professional sociologists, applied psychology researchers, and other business networking experts when defining his methods. He’s also one of the main contributors to this website, Power University, and power dynamics as a discipline.

Introduction

Given that this is a book on mastering the art of networking, this book lays out the entire step-by-step process using the acronym MASTER: 

  1. Master the Power Dynamics 
  2. Adopt the Helpful Mindsets 
  3. Specialize the Basic Guidelines 
  4. Test the Networking Strategies 
  5. Enlist the Good Mentors 
  6. Realize the Present Opportunities

Ali recommends a growth mindset before continuing further and, with that, we’re brought to Chapter 1.

Step #1: Master the Power Dynamics

#1: Your Social Success Hinges on the Stereotype Content Model (SCM) 

Scarlett: “So, when I was a nice guy, I had high warmth but low power. I had high warmth because I was always willing to give. But, by being willing to give everything to anyone, everyone felt like they had power over me and therefore saw me as low-power (cracking so many jokes for group acceptance didn’t help their image of my worth, either)…When I became frustrated and turned into a bully, I was high-power. I was capable of harming anyone with no regrets about the consequences…But, my aggression made me low-warmth. I became the person nobody wants to cross, and intimidated people into distancing themselves from me because of it….if I could become high-power and high-warmth, I could be the person everyone wants to be around. I could fix my social life.”

Albeit Ali’s experiences with the SCM were extreme, this is generally true as a social life rule:

The more you can reach (and stay within) that high-power, high-warmth bracket, the more you’ll be able to acquire important life assets such as status, resources, mates, or friends.

Also read more on power intelligence:

#2: Perceptions Are Reality

Scarlett: “…perceptions are reality…In other words, even if I only developed the traits of a high-value man—even if I only looked and acted the part—I would still be perceived as one. This would be true even if I wasn’t actually high-value yet (in the sense that I wasn’t a billionaire, for instance). I would be what is referred to as a “high-quality man” in power dynamics.”

This is the “Being VS Appearing” false dichotomy we often talk about here on this website.

In this case, the argument of whether or not it’s better to be successful vs simply look successful deals with the visibility of the social currencies. 

“Looking” successful refers to the external layers while “being” refers to the deeper layers. 

Some people like to scoff at “appearing” and say that they value “being” far more. 

However, both are valuable, as Ali also notes:

Scarlett: “As an analogy, we could say that you are the product. You are selling yourself every time you network and look to build a relationship with someone new. The way you present yourself to the world is the marketing. The clothes you wear, the way you talk, walk, move, act, and carry yourself all determine whether or not people will want to buy—whether or not others will want to build a relationship with you. High-quality men market themselves as what is arguably the most valuable product in the networking world: high-value (high-power) men. And, unfortunately, the high-value men who don’t bother to work on their marketing at all and, as a result, look low-value (low-power) lose out on those opportunities. The very same opportunities that go straight to the high-quality men who were prepared because no one knows how good a product is until they actually experience using it. And, no one wants to buy a product that, because of bad marketing, looks like it could be a bad experience. So, naturally, they go for the people with the best marketing.”

Being successful while looking unsuccessful does you little favors since people need to be willing to stick around long enough to learn how successful you are. And, people will rarely care to do that when you look objectively average (or less than).

#3: Defining Power

Scarlett: “This is what I didn’t understand at first. Even when I came to the realization that there were more forms of power than only money, I was still missing a large part of the point. The three forms of power in the world are not information, weaponry, and money, but information, weaponry, and resources. ‘Resources’ include money and connections.”

Step #2: Adopt the Helpful Mindsets

#1. Better Networking Starts In the Mind

Here, Ali shares the “Foundations of the Mind” in the IMPROVE acronym:

  1. Internalize the “I Can Change” Mindset
  2. Master the Growth Mindset
  3. Practice the Antifragile Ego
  4. Obligate the Psychology of Finding Your Passion
  5. Value the Art of Outcome Independence
  6. Embrace the Science of Happiness and Optimism

#2. Decide on a WHY

Then, he dives into purpose, sharing the “Evolution of Your Why” framework:

1. Survival: taking action only to survive (pay for necessities of living). Some people never take their why to the next level, stopping here.

2. Status: taking action for the acquisition of status symbols and oftentimes social (and emotional) validation. It’s not uncommon for people stop here in their WHY’s evolution either.

3. Freedom: taking action to reach a point of financial freedom where one has such an abundance of money, all financial decisions are “minor things” and they never have to check their financial health to know they’re still doing well. This is better than the previous two levels of WHY, but not quite as high as one’s WHY can go.

4. Purpose: taking action to advance one’s life mission. This is the highest level of one’s WHY.

Step #3: Specialize the Basic Guidelines

#1. The Circle of Influence Rule

There are three elements to your circle of influence: 

1. Your Support: family, friends, and the people you hold day-to-day interactions with.

2. Your Peers: the people you work with.

3. Your Mentor(s): the people who are farther ahead than you in your journey, who can pull you up to their level.

Scarlett recommends weeding out any members of each group who take more value from your life than they give and keeping (as well as adding) anyone who has proven themselves to be value-giving to your life and goals. 

#2. The Immersion vs. Maintenance Rule

The idea is to keep a balance of the two:

Scarlett: As an example, if you choose to immerse yourself fully in the work that generates an income for you, working two jobs, working sixty hours a week or whatever the case may be, it’s best to keep your current network on maintenance. Follow up with them every now and then and stay in touch. 

Let’s now say, for instance, that you choose to immerse yourself fully into networking. You’re spending money on tools to help build your social media profiles, attending networking events, constantly sending cold emails and cold calling people you want to connect with, and so on. At that point, it would be best to put your other work on maintenance. 

You have to have both immersion and maintenance if you want any chance of being successful. The man who does not immerse himself in anything can end up a jack of all trades and a master of none. However, the man who immerses himself in two or more things overexerts himself and collapses mentally or physically before he can achieve any goal or accomplishment worth achieving.

#3. The WIIFT Rule

As we’ve shared here at The Power Moves, the three major byproducts of this law are that

1. To get what you want, you have to give others what they want 

2. The most popular and powerful people are those with the most to give 

3. Strong relationships have a balance of give and take (or at least, the people in them must feel they are balanced)

#4. The Fairness Principle

This section is only to further reinforce that taking as much as one can and leaving others with as little as possible is hardly a solid foundation for lasting success in life or in business (and that applies to relationship-building and networking as well).

However, Scarlett also notes that the law of social exchange is not to be confused with the “law of reciprocity.” The law of reciprocity states that the more you give the more you will receive, but this is not always the case.

#5. The Integrity and Honesty Principle

Another note on the “Being vs Appearing” dichotomy (and the importance of raising one’s value):

Scarlett: “Faking it until you make it is sometimes dishonest if it’s overdone. Becoming a high-quality individual is different from faking it until you make it. High-quality people have all of the traits that are the highest predictors of success and that pave the way to acquiring resources as well as status. Therefore, in many ways, they are high-value.”

#6. The Service Principle

Scarlett: “If you want to build connections with people you have to do just that: connect. One way to connect with others is by giving value to them…Following the Service Principle means serving. The best way to do that is by giving value that makes others feel good.”

As much as it’s encouraged to give in today’s self-help literature, Scarlett also shares that a “go-giver” attitude can be more than counter-productive, but also detrimental if one’s isn’t careful.

A note Scarlett shares from Dr. Tim Elmore:

“The starving baker spends so much time baking bread for others he forgets to eat and starves himself. It looks noble and is noble to keep giving, giving, giving. But just like I need to lead myself before I lead others, I need to feed myself before I feed others.”

#7. The Growth Principle

The Growth Principle is about accepting learning opportunities, even if those opportunities require you to fail first before you can grow. 

#8. The Patience Principle

An example Scarlett gives of this principle is holding yourself back from blowing up someone’s email inbox with multiple back-to-back messages simply because they didn’t respond within an hour.

Step #4: Test the Networking Strategies

Scarlett: “Each networking situation may call for a different networking strategy. There is no one size fits all approach to connecting with anyone at any time. Luckily, there’s a process you can use to formulate and craft your own networking strategy as the situation calls for it.”

Scarlett calls this the “AIM approach”:

1. Align Your Approach: choose your style of dominance (to come across high-power).

2. Identify Your Method: choose your style of networking (to reach and connect with your target contact—Scarlett shares a list of methods in this chapter). 

3. Make Your Strategy: create a plan based on the styles you chose, information at your disposal, and contacts you already have access to.

Step #5: Enlist the Good Mentors

Expanding on the importance of mentors from the section on managing your “circle of influence”, this chapter goes deeper into how to acquire mentors with this step-by-step approach for career-oriented folks:

  • Step 1: Map Out Your Ideal Career Path
  • Step 2: Seek Out the Right Mentor Who Has Mastered the Skill You Want to Develop
  • Step 3: Get Connected to Your Mentor Candidates
  • Step 4: Schedule a Meeting with Your Mentor Candidates
  • Step 5: Ask Your Mentor Candidates the Right Questions
  • Step 6: Turn Your Top Mentor Candidate Picks Into Mentors
  • Step 7: Gratitude, Gratitude, Gratitude

Step #6: Realize the Present Opportunities

A couple of inspiring personal stories sharing wins and failures, as well as mindsets and virtues for moving forward. 

the clever connector book cover

Real-Life Applications

  • Avoid saying “thank you for joining my network” because it frames you as doing all of the taking in the relationship: a better response would be “welcome to my network” (albeit, on LinkedIn, these days Ali simply says something like, “Great to connect”). 

CONS

  • Missed opportunity for more value

The “Enlist the Good Mentors” chapter is great, and would’ve been even better if it contained a step-by-step process for business owners, entrepreneurs, and general businesspeople (rather than only career-oriented people seeking a job).

Especially, since it’s typically those types of people who are most likely to have a need to connect with celebrities (such as in the prospect of securing celebrity promotion for their business).

However, Step 4 does cover a solid strategy that can also be used for acquiring mentors and Ali mentioned he aims to make this a new, official addition to this second edition of The Clever Connector before making it widely available on Amazon.

PROS

  • Power-aware wisdom
  • Unique mix of foundational self-development + foundational social strategies

Review

The Clever Connector is a unique gem in that it combines into one single book some of the best principles of self-development, power dynamics, and proven social strategies.

Ali Scarlett, an early joiner of The Power Moves, stands apart from most other authors because he can write from the vantage point of knowing the advanced social skills of power dynamics.
Albeit, it’s often difficult to start with the more advanced material—especially when it was still so “raw” as when he first joined—Ali made the most out of it and then added his own flair to it.

It’s that special skillset from its author that makes The Clever Connector stand apart from all the rest.

Also read:

Best social skills books.
Or get the book.

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