Many people believe that you have just one shot to ask for a favor or request an introduction from a contact in your network, so you had better save it for something really important. But in fact, by using your network more frequently, you are working to grow it and stay top of people’s minds.
Expressing a hint of vulnerability will help you to use your network more successfully. By opening yourself up to your contacts, and briefly stepping away from your pride, you inspire trust and confidence in your contact.
Here are five powerful ways to utilize your network:
1. Request an introduction
The most popular way to use your network is to reach out to a contact and request an introduction with one of their connections. We encourage you to go a step further—upgrade your generic introduction message with something more personal. If you are able to create an emotional connection you inspire your contact to be vested in your success. And, if they see themselves as invested, you will be surprised to find them offering other ways to help.
2. Ask for advice
Most people love being approached for advice, because it gives them the opportunity to shine as an expert. Rather than asking just for their time, frame your request as an update of your current status, and share a specific roadblock you have come up against which necessitates their advice. Asking for advice can be as simple as requesting a reference for a contract attorney or website designer.
3. Invite them to join your passion
Philanthropy and extracurricular activities brings people and their interests together in ways that make you feel good. You should invite contacts with a like-minded approach to your interest; even if they don’t have the time at present to get involved, you’ll spark an interesting conversation with them, and can use this as a talking point for future requests or introductions.
4. Ask them to be the anchor guest at your event
Host an event and be sure to invite someone you believe carries significant value. Ask them to do you the favor of attending, as you believe others might be more inclined to attend with their presence. Be genuine in your invitation and you will develop a connection with future benefits.
5. Ask for help on behalf of another contact
Asking one of your contacts to speak with, give advice, or provide other help to another one of your contacts shows your generosity and provides another opportunity to flatter the person from whom you are requesting help. After getting agreement from the contact to provide help to the other, construct a written introduction that creates parity between the two by explaining why both are valuable to each other. This tactic flatters everyone, and creates an atmosphere of gracious humility.
Failing to use your network is like attending a dinner and standing in a corner without talking to anyone. We have seen many executives admit to dropping the ball when it comes to developing a meaningful connection with a contact.
It is important to remember that once contact is established and you have begun to tap your network through the above suggestions, you should also continue to build upon your relationships to nurture their growth.