In previous writing, I noted that we may be too close to our inner circle.
We must reach beyond our inner circle and immediate colleagues so
that all our eggs aren’t in the same basket. We can maximize our network
and strengthen our prospects by broadening and diversifying our reach.
The most effective individuals also engage and target family and friends,
along with professional groups, social circles, and even parents of children’s
friends, when possible. We want a sound and expansive platform
from which to work, but there are inevitably whole populations of people
we overlook in forming that platform. For me personally, I know I have
blind spots and so must sit down and consciously think about who has
been left out as I work to create the most far-reaching network possible.
Where are your blind spots? It’s not an easy question, so ask the people
in your circles specific questions about how to expand your network
if you feel that it is too narrow, or you’re missing people who should be
included. Here are just some of the many potential questions to ask:
• Have I reviewed all of the business cards I’ve accumulated over the
• Have I gone through all of my current email contacts in detail?
• Are there people you know you’ve run into but can’t remember his
or her name, but remember someone who will know?
• Have you asked, “Who else should I connect with?” at the end of
• Have you made your business colleagues and partners aware of
• Have you reached out to past mentors and mentees?
• Have you contacted current and past groups of interest? Personally,
I instantly scoured my Toastmasters International and National
Speakers Association contacts.
• If you have children in school, have you contacted the parents of
their classmates? How many times has one of my kids come home
and mentioned a job of one of their friends’ parents. School directories
and local phone books may be at your disposal.
• Review your social media contacts in-depth; review the recommended
connections and start making requests to build your network.
• Do you have access to past meeting notes or to other communications
(e.g., emails, memos) that may include the names of key contacts
of people you’ve dealt with in the past or subject-mater-experts
that may benefit you by setting up a meeting?
Even this tactic may not be as fruitful or productive as you expect if
you are only asking the question of your immediate network—they too
may be too close to you to see the big picture. We surround ourselves with
people like us, which can be a blind spot in and of itself. There are more
questions that you must ask:
• Are there ways to diversify your network? For example, have you
found yourself talking to mostly men?
• Do you associate primarily with people in one industry?
• Have you stayed local in your networking efforts? Even if your desire
is to remain local in landing a job, it shouldn’t hold you back
from talking with people outside your geographic area in order to
gain a fresh perspective and expand your network.
It may be time to analyze what is missing from your own network.
In addition to normal brainstorming techniques, I suggest putting your
name in the middle of a piece of paper and from there jotting down
streams of people you want to meet, asking the questions mentioned
above. In addition, take a good look at your personal marketing plan to
determine whether you have connections that align with your goals. If
you don’t, there is work to do to achieve your networking goals. Work
is opportunity waiting to be unleashed. It’s time to invest the time and
effort to allow it to blossom and do some work for you.
Thomas B. Dowd III’s books available in softcover, eBook, and audiobook (From Fear to Success only):
- The Unofficial Guide to Fatherhood
- Time Management Manifesto: Expert Strategies to Create an Effective Work/Life Balance
- Displacement Day: When My Job was Looking for a Job…A Reference Guide to Finding Work
- The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World
- From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide received the Gold Medal at the 2013 Axiom Business Book Awards in Business Reference
Do you know about Avanoo.com? Two-to-three minute eLearning programs that can change your life.
MP3 Downloads of “From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide” are available at Apple iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Emusic, Nokia, Xbox Music, Spotify, Omnifone, Google Music Store, Rdio, Muve Music, Bloom.fm, Slacker Radio, MediaNet, 7digital, 24-7, Rumblefish, and Shazam “From Fear to Success” MP3 on CD Baby