WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW

We’ve spent a great deal of time talking about the importance of connections, but not really how to connect. I had to really impress that importance so we know why we do it or why we should do it.
 
Networks, connections aren’t just about networking, but that’s where you have to start. To most people, networking means going out and talking to strangers, but it’s not quite that simple – you need to be aware of who you’re talking to and also cultivate weak social ties. Once established, a proper network will diversify teams and contacts, leading to increased productivity and innovation. Shared activities are also more likely to break down social barriers and build stronger networks, and always remember that great friendships can lead to fantastic business partnerships.
 
Also, learn from your friends. Teamwork is becoming increasingly important in modern workplaces, but you don’t even need to be part of a formal team to learn from others. Just invite your friends out and ask them what they do at their jobs. Instead of zoning out while thinking about your own problems, really listen to what they have to say, and see if you can learn something from them.
 
REACHING OUT
 
Through Reaching Out, you’ll aim to get in touch with more people and increase your number of weak ties. (Don’t forget, we’ve talked about what weak ties means in previous posts and it’s importance) 
 
Put simply, the goal is to expand your network of people who can let you know about an opportunity, such as a job or interesting project. The more people you know, the more likely you are to know someone who can recommend you as a contractor or employee. And that’s something you definitely want – as many as two-thirds of people recommended by a company’s employee get the job!
 
That sounds exciting, but what if you’re nervous about putting yourself out there?
 
All the more reason to do it, and do it regularly! Megan Bruneau, a Vancouver-based psychotherapist, says that the best way to fight anxiety is to face it over and over again to get used to the discomfort. Sticking to this strategy when Reaching Out helped her not to dwell on the non-responses, as she simply had no time to. She Reaches Out to a new person once a day, every day – and so should you. 
 
Now let’s see what Reaching Out involves in more detail.
 
The gift and the favor are two key elements of any Reach Out.
 
Imagine that one day a friend surprises you with a gift for seemingly no reason. Experience tells us what your most likely response will be: you’ll want to reciprocate the gift in some way. This is exactly the same reaction you should try to elicit in your Reach Out.
 
The rule is that any good Reach Out – whether it’s an email, tweet or a comment on someone’s blog – should include at least two gifts.
 
The gifts don’t have to be particularly elaborate – simply paying a compliment or recommending a book is enough. If applicable, share some information that the target of your Reach Out might be interested in, but doesn’t have access to. If the audience of your blog is the same your target is trying to reach, for instance, you can offer to give your target exposure to that audience. 
 
If you need inspiration, take the example of Trista Harris – co-author of How to Become a Nonprofit Rockstar. One day, she discovered that Sir Richard Branson was speaking at a conference she was due to attend. So she drafted an email to the conference organizers with an offer to interview him. The offer included her credentials and the media outlets the conference could get exposure to, which convinced the organizers to let her interview Sir Richard.
 
Instead of gifts, you can also ask your target for a favour or a request. Asking people for a favour that they can meet makes them feel important. 
 
However, when it comes to favors, you need to find the right balance. On one hand, anything that’s vague or impersonal is a waste of everyone’s time. If Uncle Google can help you with it, then why bother your target? On the other hand, you don’t want to overburden the target by asking for information they would normally charge for.
 
The best thing to do is ask specific questions that can be answered in a relatively quick fashion over email. For instance, you can ask about books or articles the target recommends, events they think are worth attending, or trends in their field that you should pay attention to.
 
So, gifts and a favor are the basics of any Reach Out. The other ingredients are contingent on who you’re targeting.
 
Your Reach Out strategy should depend on who you’re reaching out to.
 
You wouldn’t address a longtime friend the same way you would talk to a stranger or your boss. When Reaching Out, different rules apply depending on who your target is too!
 
To simplify things, you should distinguish between four different kinds of Reach Out, in order of how close your connection is to the target: Re-ReachOut, the Follow-up Reach Out, the Borrowed Connection, and the Cool Reach Out.
 

 

Olusola Bodunrin
Olusola Bodunrin is a social commentator with a passion for gathering facts on social issues. He is writer, businessman, blogger, and wardrobe consultant. He is a graduate of Philosophy from the University of Ado-Ekiti. He anchors – ‘What You Should Know’ on SHEFFA. ‘What You Should Know’ is a column that offers to educate and enlighten the public on general falsehood and myths.