This was one of many questions posed to me during the Q&A portion of a program I delivered recently. This was a definitely a Big Question and one that was hard to answer completely in a few minutes! That’s why today’s post offers a few details on how to address this challenge.
Grab your notebook and pen (and the beverage of your choice), and let’s get going!
- Reflect on the situation. What exactly do you mean by “from scratch?” From scratch-scratch? Or just an update? What created this scenario? Are you fresh out of school and just entering the workforce? Perhaps you’re still working on rejoining a more connected post-pandemic world? Perhaps you’ve moved to a new community or a new job? Or both? Maybe you’ve left or lost a job and are searching for a new one? Maybe you’re changing careers ─ or entering a totally new phase of your life? Maybe your current network no longer energizes or supports you? Maybe you’re spring (or fall) cleaning everything and reducing the clutter from your network as well as your closets? Gaining clarity on what’s really happening can be incredibly insightful.
- Create your Vision. How would you describe your Dream Network? We’re talking about a tribe of the most amazing people ever. Who would be in this group? You don’t have to name names (unless there are specific people with whom you’d really like to connect). Describe the types of expertise, professions, perspectives, and personalities with whom you’d like to be associated. Who would you like to have as friends, mentors, employers, peers, clients, or customers. And why? Who would you invite to be on your Personal Board of Advisors?
- Get more specific. What are the skills, characteristics, and habits of the people you’ve described in your Vision? Make a list of these. Let the list grow and evolve. Or you might choose to keep it simple and powerful. The latter is what Tara E. Godby, CPC of Elan Coaching and Consulting suggests. Here are five types of people she believes will help you create a powerful network: 1) honest critics and strategic thinkers; 2) people who are aligned with you and like-minded; 3) subject matter experts who know things you don’t know; 4) people from different generations who can offer varied perspectives; and 5) fans and cheerleaders. Maybe some people will fit into more than one category. Even better!
- Now reflect back on yourself. What are you bringing to the table? Make a list of all your attributes, strengths, talents, dreams, and ambitions. How will you apply yourself to make the world, the workplace, or someone else’s network better? What value or energy will you bring to the party?
- Pat yourself on the back and relax. By doing the work I’ve described so far, you’ve created a vision for what you’re seeking for your circle. This literally tunes your brain’s radar to find and recognize these special people when you hear about, see, or meet them. It also helps you know what to ask for in the way of introductions.
- Take action. Now it’s time to think about where, how, and through whom you could find and meet these people. Maybe the answer is via organized networking and social gatherings. Maybe you have well-connected friends or colleagues who know a lot of people and are willing to make introductions. Maybe there are groups or communities you could join. Maybe it’s time to bump up your social media presence by adding or sharing posts that highlight your expertise or showcase what you admire in others. Maybe you could send out personalized emails or social media messages to people with whom you’d like to connect. (But, please, please, PLEASE no spamming!) In summary, what will you do to make your vision a reality?
- Be grateful and reciprocate. This is a major part of being a good networker. For every favor, kindness, or act of generosity someone offers to you, be grateful and ready to write a thank you note, offer a shoutout or recommendation on social media, buy lunch, or return the favor in some other way. Even better, be proactive in helping others.
- Review Steps 1 through 7 and tweak, tweak, tweak. The more you stay intentional, purposeful, and open to possibilities regarding the creation or evolution of your network, the better you will get at this important endeavor in your life and career. Small steps made daily and transformed into regular habits are the secret to success.
- One more step. Well, actually two. Read my award-winning books on the topics of conversing and connecting: More Than Just Talk: The Essential Guide for Anyone Who Wants to Enjoy Better Conversations and The Intentional Networker: Attracting Powerful Relationships, Referrals & Results in Business. Both success guides are filled with strategic and tactical advice on how to converse and connect with greater authenticity, ease, graciousness, and confidence. They can be purchased from your favorite online book retailer and at BookPeople in Austin, Texas.
Patti DeNucci is an award-winning author, corporate and conference speaker, workshop facilitator, coach, consultant, and artist. She works with smart professionals who want to converse and connect with greater authenticity, ease, graciousness, and confidence. For more information please visit [ insert my website link] or contact her at