Become a Nexus
Do you have a person or people in your life that always seem to be able to connect you with the right person or company to solve their problem? Some people come by this naturally, like a snowball rolling down a hill, picking up sticks and twigs and rocks, they seem to gather information and bits of knowledge and store it in some back cabinet in their brain, ready to be unleashed at the right moment when someone asks the perfect question.
I never thought I was one of those people - I don’t have a very good memory - but several years ago realized that I had answered the questions “Where do you think I could get floral spray paint on a Sunday?,” “Who has a great mantle that would make a good photoshoot backdrop?,” and “Do you know anyone who has cheap metal shelving looking to get rid of it?,” all in one week. Although I may be a nexus now, I had to train myself to store that information that most people overlook (rightfully so, it’s usually not important in the moment). I am constantly looking and listening for things that may be useful in the future - sales, experts on this or that, stores that have random things or extended hours...anything that could come in handy. Being able to say YES to the strangest inquiries is an infinitely valuable skill as a Right Hand.
I started (pre-iphone) by jotting things down in the margin of my planner (again, not a great memory), and then transitioned to my notes in my phone and computer. Sometimes they would just say things like “Menards - sale on shelves,” or “Anne does freelance calligraphy.” Over time, I needed to write things down less and less, and just pay attention more. My brain started storing these nuggets of information pretty quickly and I was able to call upon them as needed. Admittedly, it has helped being in one city for the last 15 years - that snowball just gets bigger and bigger each year - but anyone can do it, even if you have to start over every once in awhile.
So, how do you become a nexus?
1. Go to new places! This sounds so simple - but we get in our ruts and and well-worn paths that lead to the same stores, the same events, the same venues... If you try new things, even once a month, it will lead to new information and new discoveries. Going to an art opening may lead to meeting a new caterer that will lead to a new venue connection. Heading to a specialty sewing store for thread instead of Joann's may have you meeting a tailor that can help with that last-minute alteration. Which leads me to...
2. Talk to the experts! If you know a nexus, hang out with them! And as you travel around, get to know the people who are best at what they do. These people are founts of information and most will be eager to talk your ear off. Listen, learn, and log what may be helpful. These may be your favorite conversations!
3. Write. It. Down. I said before, I don't have a great memory but I have been able to develop the ability to have a mental card catalog of weird info by now. But, at first, I wrote down what I thought was interesting. If you need that, keep a little journal with you and develop a way to keep them organized.
You may never need 90% of the information you collect, but you will be so thankful that you were able to quickly recall the rest and say YES to the weird questions - where to rent a giant inflatable nutcracker, find 108" turquoise linens at 11pm on a Tuesday night, or find a machinist to create a custom bolt to fix an 1890's printing press. I promise - I was!