How to Work Your Network

Article by Donna FeldmanBrowse the Internet, read the newspaper, or thumb through a magazine, and you’re bound to see an article advising you to use your network to help you grow your business. But how exactly do you do that?

It’s easy. All you need to do is identify everyone in your network and ask each one for help. Just follow the steps below:

Step #1 – Identify Your Existing Network
Who is already in your network? Even if your initial answer is, “I don’t know anyone,” everyone has a network. Your network is the people you already know, the people they know, and the people they know.

Grab your pen and paper and quickly write down the names of everyone you can think of, that’s right, everyone. They don’t have to be your best friend or someone you know well. They may be just a casual acquaintance; they’re still part of your network.

Here’s a list of categories to help get you started. See how many names you can list under each category. Challenge yourself to go for 100 names or more.

1. Present employer, past employer
2. Co-workers, former co-workers
3. Family members, relatives, neighbors
4. Friends, social club members, sports team members
5. Professional association members, alumni group members
6. Spiritual or religious group members
7. Service providers (e.g. hair stylist, handyman, accountant)
8. Incidental acquaintances (e.g. bus stop companions)

Step #2 – Identify How Each Person Can Help
Take a look at each name on your list and ask yourself: how can this person help? Is there someone they could introduce me to? Connect me with? Could they offer advice? Give me feedback? Write a reference or testimonial? Invite me to a meeting or event they regularly attend?

Step #3 – Identify How You Can Help Each Person
While looking at your list, think about what you can offer to each person on the list. Can you introduce them to someone? Offer advice? Give feedback? write a reference or testimonial? Invite them to a meeting or event you regularly attend?

Step #4 – Plan to Connect with Everyone on Your List
Once you’ve identified your network and determined how you can help people or they can help you, start contacting them. Calling or emailing are the easiest and thus the preferred choice for most people. If you’re calling, prepare by thinking about what you are going to say and what will help you re-connect with this person. After all, it’s the relationship that’s most important. Even if they can’t help you, you want them to feel good about the contact and eager to be in touch with you again.

Following these four simple steps will have you back in touch with people in no time, re-establishing contacts, and helping and being helped by others.

This article was co-authored by Donna Feldman and Cindy Rold. Donna and Cindy are The Networking Gurus.

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