According to a recent study by Syncapse, brands’ Facebook followers are worth an average of $174. That seems like a lot (apparently, my paltry following would be worth $20k if I were a brand), but I like the idea of connections as value, whether you’re a company or just someone trying to move up in life.

Having grown up hearing the refrain, “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know,” it’s a wonder to me that we don’t spend more time actively trying to expand our networks. There’s no better life hack than skipping a huge line because you know the guy who owns the club. Metaphorically speaking.

As Scott Gerber, founder of the Young Entrepreneur Council, says:

“Social equity is more valuable than money.”

However, I think we tend not to invest in connections as much as we should, not because we can’t quantify the value, but for the same reason we’re terrible at exercising. By default, humans aren’t good at making long-term investments. Unlike buying followers on Facebook, you can’t simply buy connections in life. You have to spend time on them, and give.

But even if we want to invest more in connections, how should we go about it? What do these people with 100,000 Twitter followers do that the rest of us don’t?

I think it’s three things:

  1. They create great content. Ok, but don’t we all? More than knowing how to inform and entertain, they know how to promote their content. Which leads us to…
  2. They leverage superconnectors to spread their content and make connections en masse. I recently wrote about superconnectors in Fast Company, primarily about how they help us filter human noise. But better-connected people also help us increase our broadcast range, if we can give them something that makes them look good or creates value for their business. (Getting someone popular to re-share your stuff because their fans will like it, getting press for something interesting or being on TV (which makes the publication/network ad revenue), etc.)
  3. They show up on the suggested user list and rise with the tide.

Look at the best-connected people on various networks and you’ll see they’re often celebrities (TV, radio exposure brings them fans), prolific creators (their stuff gets shared a lot), and early adopters (they were there in the beginning and grew with the pyramid).

Which means, for most of us, the challenge in creating connections is in our ability to tell great stories, create great content, and make friends with those more connected to us. In other words, hustle.

(I’m curious what others think. Am I missing something obvious?)

It would be great if making connections were as easy as pulling out a credit card. But perhaps the fact that we can’t makes them worth so much.