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OPERATION! Build Your Dream Network

By June 5, 2019 No Comments

Instructions: Building a dream network requires that you use your head and your heart.

Operation! was this goofy battery-operated game from my youth. It was a “skill” game designed to test your hand-eye coordination. Players earned points for successfully removing ailments from the patient – water on the knee, funny bone, broken heart, wrenched ankle…

STICK WITH ME HERE! There is a NETWORK building point to my goofy reminiscences about boardgames from my childhood.

For this (the game of networking) edition of “Operation!…operation build your dream network…you are required to engage your heart and your head before you dive into a networking act. That is, assess, analyze, diagnose BEFORE you seek to connect (or make a big, bold networking ask).

You likely have someone (or a company) in mind who you are seeking to connect with. A target employer or customer, perhaps? Maybe you have already sent along an email or pitch (and have yet to get a response) – and you’re wondering “now, what do I do?”. Here is what you do first:

Picture that person (or company). Yup, get a good image of them in your mind.

Then, ask yourself:

What is going on with the patient aka the person or company or organization or entity or group you’re seeking to connect with?

Off the top of my head, here are a few things that could be going on in a busy person (or company’s) day and distracting them from your email:

  • Budget review
  • Revised business focus
  • Office pressures (caused by human dynamics, a restructuring or perhaps, either of the first two bullet points)
  • Stock Market
  • Time Zone(s)
  • Staffing (from shortages to on-boarding new hires)
  • Leadership Changes
  • Promotion or New Job
  • System Upgrades
  • Procurement Policies (nothing like layers of administrative processes!)
  • Downsizing
  • Holidays
  • Vacations
  • Summer Fridays!
  • Department Offsite
  • Leave Of Absence
  • Secondment

THEN there is all the personal stuff….from the cat dying to moving into a new home to a child’s graduation.

The BIG BADASS #BYDN networking point is:

You may have identified THEM as the perfect [client, employer, customer, partner, whatever] but you need to consider what is going on inside their world. You want to get a response then focus on: What’s ailing them? What’s consuming their time, energy, focus?

Use your head (facts, observations, data) and your heart (understanding, empathy, “been there” feelings) when deciding :

  • HOW
  • WHEN

To reach out or follow-up or just to curb the butterflies in your stomach because no-one has returned your call or responded to your email.

#BYDN challenge: Instead of making yourself sick waiting for answers, review the email communications (i.e. pitches, asks, requests) you’ve recently sent out. What can you do to improve the communication (and connection)? Did you fire off an email without all the facts? Has a bit of information come in that could improve the initial email – if so, how can you send a more convincing follow-up?

Need more practical, actionable, effective and time respecting networking insights?

J. Kelly Hoey

J. Kelly Hoey

Kelly Hoey is the author of Build Your Dream Network (January 2017 / Tarcher Perigee). She has been lauded from Forbes (“1 of 5 Women Changing the World of VC/Entrepreneurship”) to Fast Company (“1 of the 25 Smartest Women On Twitter”) to Business Insider (“1 of the 100 Most Influential Tech Women On Twitter”) and Inc. (1 of “10 Most Well-Connected People in New York City's Startup Scene”). Empowering A Billion Women By 2020 included her on their list of the “100 Most Influential Global Leaders Empowering Women Worldwide”. Not bad for a former corporate lawyer. She’s a limited partner in two emerging tech funds (Laconia Capital Group and Lattice Ventures) and can frequently be found on Twitter @jkhoey.