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Building a World-Class Network (pt. 2)
How to build a robust professional network to accelerate your career.
Hi friends 👋
This is a continuation of my previous article on networking and relationship-building. As always, please share feedback and let me know what you think.
Hope it’s helpful!
If you haven’t read part 1, you can do so here.
Build a digital rolodex
The most effective networkers and community builders I know all have a world-class ‘digital rolodex’. Personally, I manually update a Google sheet, which is my source of truth for all relationships—both personal and professional.
Personal details: Name, contact info, role, company…
Relationship details: How did you meet? How strong is your relationship? How often do you plan on engaging?
Asks / Gives: How can you help? How can they help?
Action items: What can you do together?
Be organized, disciplined, and rigorous with how you track your relationship—and you’ll 10x the value you provide (and get) from those in your network.
Connect the dots
Introductions, when done properly, will exponentially strengthen your network and relationships.
What does ‘properly’ entail? Well, introductions should always be relevant (they have shared goals), purposeful (you’re connecting them for a specific task or dialogue.)
Whenever you meet someone new, try to understand their goals and challenges, then find proactively find a way to connect them with someone else.
Master the follow-up
‘Professional networkers’ or those in sales or partnerships roles recognize that connections don’t just magically happen, they require a follow-up.
Have an interesting conversation at an event? Follow up later and mention the specific topic.
Attend a speaker panel? Follow up to say ‘thank you’ and let them know what you appreciated.
Follow up in a manner that is respectful, considerate, and specific—and with a bit of persistence and effort, you’ll be able to reactivate lost connections and conversations.
And don’t be discouraged with a non-response. Most people are incredibly busy—but all it takes is one ‘yes.’
Think in decades
People who are overly transactional are usually thinking too short term. They think of the relationship in terms of what immediate benefit they can gain vs. what a long-term, mutually beneficial partnership would look like. Short term thinkers burn bridges while long term thinkers build them.
Shift your mindset:
As a recruiter, evaluate your candidates not only for the current posting, but all future jobs you'll be hiring for.
As an investor, assess your founders not only for the current fund, but all future investments you’ll be making
As consultant, treat your client as if you'll be working with them for decades
Take a long term view on your relationships and you’ll naturally approach them in a more meaningful way.
Provide tangible value
What does it mean to 'give first' when networking?
Well, you add tangible value to a professional relationship in three ways:
People: connecting relevant, helpful individuals with each other.
Knowledge: sharing wisdom and ideas to help solve a problem.
Emotional presence: providing attention, acceptance, and approval during an interaction.
Most people recognize the first two—but they forget about the last. Sometimes, providing a good, energizing conversation is the most valuable thing you can do.
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