Lesson 3: “But I Don’t Have a Network!” (How to Identify Your Contacts)
You do have a network — and it’s powerful.
Your network can be divided into two parts: your personal network and your professional network.
When people say “I don’t have a network,” they are saying “I don’t have a professional network. Sure, I have friends and family, but how can they attest to my professional strengths? They’ve never worked with me.”
Personal networks are where you actually have the most leverage. It may seem counterproductive, but people don’t hire people because of their professional strengths. They hire them because they like them. They hire them because they trust them to do a good job.
And guess what? Your personal connections can attest to your likeability and your trustworthiness a lot more intimately than your professional connections can. And you’re much more likely to hear back from someone you know – someone you met just once, even – as opposed to a complete stranger.
However, at the same time, if you stick with just your closest friends, who probably all know each other, you’re not going to get any new information or leads. So we’re really going to be casting a wide net.
What I’ve done here is made a list of everyone in your professional network.
● Everyone you ever worked with, including volunteer jobs.
● People who attended school with you, including your teachers, all the way from your kindergarten teacher to your thesis advisor.
● People you’ve met at professional development classes, seminars, and workshops.
● Military contacts.
● People in your online social networks.
And here, I’ve made a list of your personal network.
● Your family and friends.
● People who go to your house of worship.
● Your neighbors.
● Anyone you know via your children’s activities.
● People you’ve met when practicing your hobby.
● Your hairdresser, barber, pedicurist, and bartender.
● Your lawyer and accountant.
Before we begin any sort of outreach, we’re going to make a list of everyone in your professional and personal networks.
If you’re having a very hard time recalling everyone you know, consider exporting your social media contacts and running through the output file to jog your memory.
I’ve pasted a few instructional links below that you can use to download your own spreadsheet:
● Gmail – http://blog.cometdocs.com/how-to-export-gmail-contacts-to-excel
● Yahoo – https://www.lifewire.com/export-yahoo-address-book-1174479
● Hotmail – https://www.lifewire.com/export-contacts-from-hotmail-1174240
● Outlook – https://kb.wisc.edu/office365/page.php?id=38438
● LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/people/export-settings
● Facebook – http://blog.contactually.com/2015/05/3-facebook-contacts-workarounds-to-give-you-control-of-your-network/
If you’re like me, and your memory of people isn’t so great, you might want to add extra data bits next to the people in your list. To get you started, I’ve jotted down some of the data bits I find helpful to gather when networking:
4. LinkedIn URL
5. Email Address
7. Personal Information
8. Referral Method
9. Category (See next slide)
The first six categories are fairly self-explanatory.
Personal Information – things that may tie you together. For example, I have a Labrador and I find that people that have dogs automatically like me more because I have a dog.
Referral Method – where did I find this person? I sometimes use this information to introduce myself. For example, “my accountant recommended I reach out to you regarding your financial advisory services.”
One mistake people make when networking is treating all contacts equally. That’s a mistake because each contact, while valuable, can offer you different sorts of help. Some contacts can offer you jobs outright, while others, like family members who do not work in the same industries you work in, can offer you access to their contacts. So how you approach each contact, what you say to them, and how you “close the sale” with them depends largely on the goal you have with them.
So that’s what we’re going to be doing now. We’re going to be labeling everyone in your contacts list with one of these four letters – H, I, R, and E.
H: People who have the power to hire you. Includes small business owners, general managers of small companies, the head of the department that you are interested in, and recruiters.
I: People that can give you information; these people may work in the industry or company you’d like to work for. Vendors for your dream company also fall in this category. Be generous with this category. You’d be surprised what – and who – people know.
R: People who you have a closer bond with and can directly refer you to H’s. For example, if you’d love to work for Cisco and your best friend works at Cisco, you can ask them to refer you to their manager. You may not have many “R’s” in your list; you may have a lot more “I’s” than “R’s,” but that’s okay. In the next few lessons, I’ll be showing you how to “convert” “I’s” into “R’s.”
E: Everyone else who cares about you. People who leverage referrals have a 4x chance of getting the job than people who do not! And the most successful networkers don’t dismiss their E’s and their I’s. Everyone has E’s and I’s, but only some people know how to turn their E’s and I’s into R’s.
If you have a very dismal contacts list – if, for example, you are new to the country and have no connections here – don’t worry. Try to follow these steps for all the contacts you do have. You can tap into your alumni network as a second resort. Alternatively, you can build connections at professional associations and through LinkedIn using the steps I am about to share with you in the next few lessons.
Now, you may notice I’m not going into a lot of detail about how to organize all this information. That’s because you have to figure out what works for you. I recommend starting your contact gathering processes in a spreadsheet because it’s easy to copy and paste your social media export files, but how you go about actually tracking follow ups and tracking what you said to whom depends completely on YOU. I recommend sticking with a method that’s most easily integrated with whatever you’re already doing.
A lot of networking “experts” recommend sticking to the spreadsheet you start out with. But just the thought of opening a spreadsheet up every day to do follow ups sounds like so much work, doesn’t it? And we live in the age of apps and tools. Most tools are effortless to use. Which apps do you use? Which platforms do you use? Are there any reminder or contact features that integrate neatly with what you already use?
Now that you have everyone in your list labeled, here’s what we’re going to do with them:
1. Sowing the Seeds: Ask your E’s for referrals to I’s and H’s.
2. Introduction: Draw on the Benjamin Franklin principle by asking your I’s a very easy question.
3. Nurture: Draw on the Grease the Wheels Principle to ask all your I’s a slightly harder question, then speak to you on the phone, and then convert them into an R.
4. Branching Out: Leverage the goodwill we formed with our R to connect with their decision-maker – with an H.
5. Goal: And finally, get that H to make you an offer.
In the next lesson, I’ll walk you through all my networking templates and break down exactly how we’re going to go through this process. In the next lesson, I’ll be showing you how to follow up with your connections at each step of this process.
But before we do that, I need you to notice something.
I need you to notice that this is a pyramid. You may be reaching out to lots and lots of people before we get to maybe 3-5 H’s that we’re coordinating offers with.
If we get caught up on the people that get lost in the cracks or become otherwise unresponsive, we risk losing our focus on the folks that can lead us to our H’s. Please don’t make the mistake of becoming emotionally attached to any one interaction. Always, always, always keep lots of eggs in your basket. Companies play the field when seeking out candidates; candidates should too.
Click below for the next lesson.