Here are some simple steps you can take to start easy, and create a habit of expanding the value of your network by bridging gaps.
- Make a list of everyone you have exchanged email with in the past month [gmail search]
- Add to your list some personal notes: what they do for a living, their likes, hobbies, etc.
- Re-read through your list so it is fresh in your mind
- Start at the top of your list, and think of one other person that person could benefit from knowing
- If there is no immediate need for the two to know each other, find some bit of information particular to the two of them based on their job, interests, hobbies etc.
- Send the info to both of them at the same time, and ask a question you want to know the answer to. Don’t forget to tell them why you’re asking both of them. Dear Scuba experts, my brother-in-law is looking for a new XYZ, what is your experience with this model… If you can’t think of a question you genuinely want to know, just send the info and the reason why you think they’d both find it useful.
- Under each person in your notes, record you have connected the two of them, when it was, and what the topic was.
- Done with your list? Great! Add another month’s email to your list, and repeat.
A few of tips to consider as you go through this:
- Schedule time for this every week (or month, or day…)
- Start slowly. You want this to be a habit, not an explosion
- Only start as many conversations as you can carry
- Introductions can be passive (as in the scuba example). They don’t have to be Alice meet Bob, Bob meet Alice.
- Each time you meet someone, try and introduce them to someone else
- Spend at least as much time networking down, as you do up
The more you contribute to your network (not just the individuals), the more opportunities, ideas, and information will come to you. I work hard at this, and there are still many many gaps to be closed. Just look at all those people who don’t know each other!
I hesitated in putting this post up, as I doubt the web needs yet another X Steps to…. post, but these have really helped me. I hope they can help you too.
What are your personal networking tips?