Power Point: Be a connector

August 15, 2008, 9:06 PM UTC

“You can measure power by who you know and your ability to connect people. In the industry I started in, you couldn’t find allies, let alone mentors. Open up your network and invite someone else in.”

— Pat Mitchell, President & CEO, The Paley Center for Media, said this last month when I asked her how she thinks about power. We were on a panel about mentoring at Goldman Sachs . (Goldman and Pat participate in the Fortune-U.S. State Department Mentoring program, an offshoot of the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit.) Pat’s point about power struck me, particularly because she is the most connected person I know. A media pioneer at Turner Broadcasting and then PBS, where she was CEO, Pat is also on the boards of Bank of America and Sun Microsystems . Typically, in her spare hours, she is “fishing with Ted” (Turner), “hiking with Jane” (Fonda) or “hanging with Carly” (Fiorina). Pat doesn’t namedrop for effect, and I don’t mean to either, but I recall sitting between Pat and Queen Noor at a dinner a few years ago, and Her Majesty and I concluded that Pat is “the best schmoozer on earth.”

Collecting powerful friends is one thing. Connecting them is another. Sharing your friends, no matter how powerful they happen to be, is the ultimate act of generosity, I think. Pat, who has fostered powerful friendships the world over, does this better than practically anyone I know. (Though Arianna, you’re really good at this too!)