I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “Your network is your net worth”. And while that may be directionally true, it doesn’t provide any pointers on how to actually build that network.
That’s why I sat down with Kim Kaupe on the latest episode of the Launch Your Business podcast. She’s an agency founder, educator and podcast host. And during our conversation she provided tactic-level details on how you can grow a powerful network, even if you’re an introvert.
I’ll share some of my favorite takeaways below, you can listen to the full episode here.
The fastest way to start growing your network
Building your network can feel intimidating, but there’s a quick way to get started that is often overlooked.
As Kim shares “The number one way that you can grow your network, and also the one that tends to make people feel the most uncomfortable, is to ask for help. People don’t realize how many connections they already have that would be willing to help if they just ask”
I know, asking people for help can feel awkward, but one of three things will happen.
So you have everything to gain and nothing to lose.
Here’s how to get started. Make a list of people you can reach out to including friends, family and previous coworkers.
What should you say when you reach out? Kim provides a simple and customizable script for you to use.
“Hey, I’m actively trying to network with people in (your industry of focus) because I’m really curious about (something you’d like to learn). Do you know anybody that’s working in this field?”
That’s it. Once you get this message out you’ve activated your existing network and let them know exactly how they can help you.
Repeat the process until you get at least three introductions from your network.
Next, we’ll cover how you can best present yourself as you prepare to meet these new connections.
How to make a good first impression
Once the introductions are made, the other person is most likely going to do some research on you before agreeing to chat in real time.
How can you make sure they move forward with a conversation? Kim has more advice for you.
“I would say the best thing that you can do when it comes to representing yourself outside of the corporate sphere is really building your career capital, really investing in yourself. So I would say if I could start anywhere with anything, please start with your LinkedIn. It is one of the most powerful business platforms.”
LinkedIn is definitely the spot for business networking but you have to make sure your profile encourages people to interact with you. Again, Kim chimes in on how to make this happen.
“The one thing I would say is make sure that your profile is complete. So a lot of times people will leave their banners empty, they won’t put in their work information, they won’t put in an about me section. So take the time to actually complete your profile, that’s how you stand out from the crowd.”
If you need help with Kim has assembled her top LinkedIn profile tips which you can access at helpmylinkedin.com.
How to do cold outreach without sounding desperate
Although your existing network is a great way to get started, you’ll eventually need to start building relationships with people you have no connection with.
Again, LinkedIn provides the perfect opportunity for this since you can easily identify people based on their roles and industry. However, don’t just reach out and say you’d like to connect.
Instead, use Kim’s peanut butter and jelly strategy.
“The peanut butter to me is somebody’s name, it’s unique to them. There are different types of peanut butter, crunchy, smooth but you’re identifying one specific type of peanut butter.”
This sounds simple but you can immediately make a more authentic connection just by mentioning the person’s name.
Kim continues “The jelly is that cool, interesting thing that that person is doing. It could be a quote they said on a podcast, a fun fact about their LinkedIn profile that you think is really interesting, or it could be a post that they recently published.”
Don’t skip this part. This is where you demonstrate the fact that you’ve done your homework and separate yourself from everyone else who sends a connection request.
“And then the bread is appreciation and gratitude. So appreciation could be something along the lines of it’s so great to meet you. I’m really excited to keep learning from you and then some sort of gratitude such as thanks for sharing that last post. Thanks for having such great points on that podcast, I’m really excited to keep learning from you.”
Remember, the more specific you are here, the better. And if you ask a related question you’ll increase your chances of getting a response.
Networking for introverts who would rather not network
“The first is to start digitally. I think that’s a great way to kind of get into the shallow end before you move into the deep end. But digital networking, I think can be a really great forte for you into what it’s going to be like when you start networking in person.”
Fortunately, we’ve already covered how to do this so you’re all set there. The next step, applying what you’ve learned.
Kim continues “And the second one is accountability. It’s like going to the gym. Sometimes it’s really hard to go to the gym by yourself. But having that gym partner or somebody who’s relying on you makes it a lot easier and gives comfort. So as you start networking, Get that accountability partner.”
I suggest finding a partner and committing to specific networking goals each month. For example, reach out to ten people per month and attend at least one event. You should also plan on meeting once per week to share your progress. Here’s why.
The American Society of Training and Development (ASTD) did a study on accountability and found that you have a 65% of completing a goal if you commit to someone. And if you have a specific accountability appointment with a person you’ve committed, you will increase your chance of success by up to 95%.
So if you want to grow a powerful network, consider partnering up with a fellow introvert so you can both meet your goals.
The best way to end any networking opportunity and continue the relationship
Networking can be awkward and a complete waste of time if you don’t continue nurturing the relationship.
Kim shares how you can make this happen.
“The number one tip to make yourself somebody that wants to be in the mix and people want to network with is to be helpful. I always say the best way to end meetings or interactions with people is to say ‘How can I help you?’ And don’t just make that end on how can I help you at work? But just as a human being, how can I help you?”
She continues “I cannot tell you how many times I’ve recommended hairstyles, dog walkers, movies, podcasts to listen to; because at the end of the day, in addition to work, we’re all humans. And if you can help somebody find that dog walker or find that new hairstylist, that can be a huge help in their life.”
You’ll be amazed at what can happen when you focus on creating something with other people – a mutually beneficial relationship – as opposed to focusing on what you can take from them.
Give first and you’ll often get something back from them, or someone else in their network. But if you learn to give without expecting anything in return you may experience even better outcomes.
Those were a few key takeaways from my conversation with Kim. To hear the full conversation and get access to additional resources tune in to this week’s episode of the Launch Your Business podcast.
Have any questions or suggestions? Reach out to me on Instagram or LinkedIn.