Tag Archives: networking

Networking: 4 Steps to Making Strategic Connections

Strategic contacts are often people with whom you have no mutual connection. The bad news: For many, reaching out to these people is an overwhelming task that causes high anxiety. The good news: It can be mastered with structure and practice and it has a high return on investment.  

Once you have identified people to connect with, what do you say to them? How do you introduce yourself? The more you practice the following steps the easier it will get and the more likely you are to make it part of your ongoing leadership practice.4 steps to making strategic connections: Initial Contact, Curious Listening, 2-minute story, & follow-up

4 Steps to Make a Connection

1. Initial Contact: Whether in person or electronically, use your commitment statement as a way to introduce yourself and ask for a meeting. Tell them what you are committed to, what you are passionate about, and what you are working towards. Mention your common connection and request some time to meet. For example:

“I got your name from … I am committed to … so that … Can we meet for coffee to talk more?”

2. Your Story: During the “get-acquainted” meeting, share your 2-minute story of commitment so the other person can learn about you. Tell them about a challenge you overcame, your shared purpose, and your desired future. For example:

“I’d like to tell you a story… I share this because … is important to us … Imagine if … Please join me … ”

3. Their Story: Use curious listening to learn about the other person. Everyone has a story to tell. Encourage them to share theirs. Ask questions and listen. Look for something that resonates with you– work or non work related. People most often bond through interactions about personal interests, not technical ones. For example:

“I’m curious … Tell me more … Go on … That is interesting … ”

4. Follow-up: Show your appreciation by thanking them for the meeting using ongoing regard. Describe specifics about the meeting and then describe what impact it had on you. Written notes are best, but email also works. For example:

“Thank you … I appreciate …What you said/did … It made a difference in …”

 Questions to Deepen Thinking

  • How are you doing with making new connections?
  • What would happen to your leadership practice if you stopped strategic networking?
  • Have you ever tried to make a connection simply by being curious about the other person?Credits
Battilana, J. & Casciaro, T. (2013, July-August). The network secrets of great change agents. Harvard Business Review.
Ibarra, H. & Hunter, M. (2007, January). How leaders create and use networks. Harvard Business review.
Kegan, R. &. Lahey, L. (2001). How the Way We Talk Can Change the Way We Work: Seven Languages for Transformation. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Schein, E. (2013). Humble inquiry: The gentle art of asking instead of telling. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.
Uzzi, B. & Dunlap, S. (2005, December). How to build your network. Harvard Business Review.

Related Posts

Strategic Networking: ABCs of Choosing Your Connections
Networking: 5 Circles of Influence
How Leaders Inspire & Motivate: 2-Minute Story of Commitment
Setting Meaningful Goals: 3 Components of a Commitment
The DOs and DON’Ts of Curious Listening: Tell Me More
Ongoing Regard: Boost the Power of your Thank You 

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Strategic Networking: ABCs of Choosing Your Connections

Leaders cannot ignore the informal, yet powerful, impact that networks have on their success. Savvy leaders continuously seek resources, perspectives, and insights from individuals with diverse affiliations, backgrounds, and incentives. By adding the ABCs of strategic connections– Advocates, Ambassadors, Brokers, Champions, and Connecters– to your network, you will be better prepared for future challenges and priorities.

If you think towards the future when building your network, then you will be more prepared for future challenges and priorities.      

If more than 65% of your network is supportive, your network is probably too tactical. It is important to invest time in “strategic” networking.

Where to Look for Strategic Contacts

Your supportive network is important in your daily work. However, if more than 65% of your network is supportive, your network is probably too tactical. It is important to invest time in “strategic” networking. Start by brainstorming with these questions: Who do I already know that can introduce me to other contacts? Are there similar organizations outside of my geographical area? Which industries or professions share the same interests as me? What services do my client demographics use? Are there educator or academic connections that can be mutually beneficial? Who in particular can help me with my strategic goals?

Who to Connect With

It can be difficult to approach people with whom you have no common task or shared purpose, especially with more senior people. But, powerful contacts are not necessarily those in positions of authority or within your industry. Look for people or groups who:

  • publicly support your work or your commitments
  • are messengers or representative of your profession
  • can act and speak well on your behalf
  • already support similar endeavors
  • can arrange or negotiate introductions
  • can link you to another network
How to Make Contact

Create opportunities for connecting with those people you have identified. If you can’t find any common ground, do some research about the person. Join social or professional activities they participate in. Get involved in person and on-line. LinkedIn is a great platform for making new connections. Ask yourself and others within your circles of influence, “Who do I know that might be able to connect me with that person?” If you cannot find a common connection, read our next post for a step-by-step guide on how to approach your connections and what to say when you meet them.

Questions to Deepen Thinking

  • What percentage of your network is strategic?
  • When selecting strategic contacts, what would happen if you chose them based on your desired future?
  • What can you do differently to grow your network?

Credits

Battilana, J. & Casciaro, T. (2013, July-August). The network secrets of great change agents. Harvard Business Review.
Ibarra, H. & Hunter, M. (2007, January). How leaders create and use networks. Harvard Business review.
Uzzi, B. & Dunlap, S. (2005, December). How to build your network. Harvard Business Review.

Related Posts

Networking: 5 Circles of Influence

We underestimate the amount of resources it takes to achieve commitments. And we are reluctant to ask for support. But, we need to ask in a deliberate way. How can you motivate others to work with you in achieving your commitments? By creating a community of supportive relationships.

If you include networking as part of your routine, then you will have the resources you need to achieve your commitments.

This means being intentional with your work relationships and knowing how each person connects to a common purpose. Once you have crafted your 2-minute story of commitment, make a list of whom you will share it with.

Determine your Circles of Influence

Make a list of people who need to hear your commitment. From your employees, colleagues, and stakeholders select people who can, directly or indirectly, help you reach your goals. Be sure to include names in each of the 5 circles:

If you include networking as part of your routine, then you will have the resources you need to achieve your commitments.

 

1- Start with People you trust.

This can be anyone who fits into the other four categories. This is someone you are comfortable with and someone whom you trust explicitly to give you objective feedback. Examples: friends, family, boss, colleagues

2- People you lead.

This is includes your direct reports and others you lead indirectly. Examples: employees, staff, volunteers, members

3- People you work/collaborate with.

These are people you don’t lead “officially” but whom you work with. Examples: peers, other departments, other organizations, vendors

4- People you need.

This group includes people who are not in groups 1-3. It may be stakeholders, people you need on your side, or people who have something that can help, and most importantly: PEOPLE WHO WILL NETWORK ON YOUR BEHALF.

5- People from the larger community.

These are people (or groups of people) who exist outside of your organization who influence or are influenced by your organization. Examples: professional organizations, board of directors, a community action group, your town, state or county

Create your Community

Begin sharing with people you are most comfortable with and continue through group 5. Start with at least 3 connections from each group. Revise your 2-minute story of commitment each time you tell it depending on your audience. Over a period of weeks or months, you will create a community of supportive relationships.

Questions to Deepen Your Thinking:

  • How is networking working for you?
  • How diverse is your network?
  • Can you think of a different way to grow your network?

Credits

Ganz, M. (2007). TELLING YOUR PUBLIC STORY: Self, Us, Now. Cambridge: Kennedy School of Government.
Ibarra, H. & Hunter M. (2007, January). How leaders create and use networks. Harvard Business Review.
Uzzi, B. & Dunlap, S. (2005, December). How to build your network. Harvard Business Review.

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