Persistence and a Strategy Is How You Can Grow Your Network 10x In 3 Months
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The word "network" has become a bit trite in our culture today. People are always talking about "networking" and it has led to a stigma of insincerity. When people are creating connections with others for the sole purpose of receiving a benefit, networking becomes insincere and a negative practice.
Networking does not have to be like that, though. Instead, connecting with others can provide a tremendous opportunity. Having a larger network, for the right reasons, can help you learn new things, find new jobs and offer a chance to help others.
The benefits of a strong network are numerous. Growing and maintaining a strong network is where the challenge comes, but it is much more a question of persistence and thoughtfulness than of intelligence or skill. Here is how you can grow your network by 1000 percent in the next three months in an effective and sustainable way:
Do it for the right reasons.
There is a compulsion to reach out to people for the sake of reaching out or because we have some sort of warm intro. Just because an alum from your college works at Google, though, is not enough reason to reach out. Instead, ask yourself what you are hoping to get out of a relationship with that particular person. Do you want to actually work at Google? Are you interested in the type of work they do so you can decide if you want to try it?
Secondly, ask yourself what you need to do to accomplish those goals? Do you need to ask them to chat on the phone for 30 minutes or could you just email them with a few bulleted questions?
If you want to connect with someone because you want a job at their company, that is a reasonable reason to reach out. Just be thoughtful about how that person might be able to help you get a job and what you would need to do to elicit that help.
Being deliberate with your outreach will yield more meaningful conversations and it will prevent awkward or nonproductive ones. Plus, it will filter out people who you might not really be interested in getting to know.
Spend time in communities that you would like to be a part of.
To find people that you want to reach out to, try to surround yourself with people who you want to be like or learn from. This could be a physical location, like spending time at hack-a-thons, or it could be digitally, like on crypto news websites. You will empower yourself to find more high-quality individuals to reach out to by being in the communities where you think you will find your people. This could come from people who tweet about certain topics, writers on Medium or even those who include certain words in their social media bios.
Do not be afraid to take the first step.
Many people struggle with networking because they are nervous about getting a response. Or, they do not know how to start the conversation.
First off, it is extremely easy to find someone's email address with the countless tools that currently exist. Secondly, sending a message is not rocket science. Briefly introduce yourself, tell them what you need and include why they should care. No need to send a super long email or take more than a few minutes to write it. Give thought to write a subject line they will click on and the time of day you send the message. Do what you can to elicit a response.
If they do not respond, then who cares? There are countless others in similar roles that you can reach out to. Plus, whoever does not respond does not know you and likely never will.
You aren't limited to just email.
Many think email is the only way to connect with people. There are plenty other mediums to do so, though. Twitter is great because you can tweet at people and even direct message some that have the privacy setting off. You can use LinkedIn as well.
Plus, you cannot overstate the power of connecting in person. Events are great opportunities to expand your network. Because everyone is there for the same reasons, it is easy to start a conversation. Following up from there becomes significantly easier.
Be persistent and consistent.
Expanding your network is largely a numbers game. The more people that you send quality emails to, the more that are going to respond. This means more opportunities for strong relationships to be cultivated. Just because one or many people do not respond, does not mean that you should stop.
Also, if you genuinely want to expand your network by 1,000 percent, then you have to stay consistent. Emailing 10 people each day (which you could do in an hour -- and less once you get more practice) will lead to 900 people emailed over the course of three months. It might be tiring, but it is not overwhelmingly difficult. Persistence is what distinguishes the best networkers.
Use referrals whenever people offer.
When people that you trust say "you should meet my friend," always take them up on it. They say that because they believe you two would connect well. When offered those opportunities, take full advantage. When there is someone you want to get to know and you can use a mutual friend or a piece of information (like being from the same city) to create a warm intro, that is another great opportunity. Capitalizing on it will increase the response rate and gives you something to immediately connect over.
Related: 5 Steps to Rock Any Networking Event
Keep track of people in some way.
Measure your progress and keep track of your network. For everyone, this looks different. Bill Clinton used to keep note cards of every person in his network. Others enjoy using Excel. Some have lists. No matter what it is, though, find what works for you. This will allow you to keep track of your progress, it will help you remember to stay in touch with people and it can provide a list of people to look at when you are searching for your next job.
Consistently follow up.
Having a conversation with someone is just the first step. A relationship is not created until there is consistent communication. Meeting someone and not reaching back out until you need something can create an uncomfortable situation. Instead, when you are in initial conversations, find things out about them.
Learn what they are interested in and what their pain points are. Therefore, whenever you are in a situation where you can add value to them, you will be able to do so. This could be as little as sending an article their way or connecting them to someone else that you know. These small acts will make them like you significantly more and strengthen the bond that you have. Even touching base with someone once a year, will help facilitate a longstanding relationship.