Last month, Crain’s Detroit Business and RelSci published a list of Detroit’s most connected professionals in the for- and non-profit sectors. This month, we turn our eyes (and data) to northeast Ohio. Who are the top influencers in and around Cleveland, and what do they have in common?
To form the list, we took more than 8,000 candidates from 12 of Crain’s Cleveland’s lists and assessed each against five benchmarks: reach, reliability, influence, access and centrality. Or, to put it another way: number of connections (reach); the strength of those connections (reliability); number of links to other super-connectors (influence) and super-connected organizations (access); and the capacity for connecting previously unconnected individuals (centrality).
Among the top 100 connected individuals, certain trends in contact points are obvious. For example, as Crain’s reporter Kevin Kleps points out, nearly a third of the most connected list have been or are on the board of the local chapter of the United Way and almost a quarter had or have seats on the board of University Hospitals. In terms of alma mater selection, 17 members of the top 100 attended Case Western Reserve University.
What does this tell us? Well, for starters, Cleveland’s super-connectors know exactly where to find each other. And while diversity of background and activity is often a benchmark for a healthy networking eco-system, in Cleveland, a few key similarities have created a powerful umbrella network, which rising connectors should take note of.
That brings up a critical point. Smart networkers must remain flexible when it comes to expanding their webs of connection. In similar examinations of Detroit and New York City, diversity across the top 100 lists was the name of the game, allowing various points of access to some of the most influential individuals and organizations. Someone looking to either build relationship capital in northeastern Ohio or access a decision-maker there, however, might be better served by finding an intermediary in one of the top represented organizations, like the United Way or Case Western.
The takeaway: Networks are unique and evolving ecosystems, and building relationship capital across different cities and economies requires varying approaches. Burgeoning and veteran connectors alike must remain open to new ways of establishing and nurturing relationships as they look to expand their networks in terms of geography and influence. For a complete look at Crain’s Cleveland Business’ Most Connected list, click here.