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Summer Steps to EXPLODE Your Network

June 8, 2011

By: Adam Carroll, Phoenix-Thunderbird

Summer is the perfect time to bolster your network with the people that can help you get where you want to be sooner. Let’s face it, networking was probably one of the last things you were thinking about while studying for finals, figuring out summer living situations and deciding how to tell your parents you’re joining the circus next year, so here’s some steps for networking now that things have settled down.

Step One: Identify three people to network with.

Why 3? Because it’s more than 2 and less than 5. It’s an easy amount to reach out to via email or phone and you can keep track of those 3 fairly easily. Plus, someone isn’t going to get back to you right away, but be persistent anyway.

The 3 you target should be influential people that you have either met previously or were referred to by someone else that you respect. Here’s an example email of how to reach out:

 Hi Adam,

My name is Heather, and I was referred to you by a mutual friend named Joe. I’m a college student home for the summer and am looking to expand my network and Joe said you were one of the most well-connected people he knew. I’d love to buy you a cup of coffee and chat about what you do for a living and how you chose your field. I’m hoping to get some tips about networking effectively as well.

Would you have time to meet in the morning or afternoon early next week? I look forward to hearing back from you!

Sincerely,
Heather

Step Two: Know your meeting strategy.

The best acronym I’ve ever seen for a power networking meeting is F.O.R.M.—a line of questioning for the meeting.
Family
– Ask about their husband or wife and children. If they have kids, ask questions about them. If no kids, ask a question about their spouse’s career or how they met.
Occupation – Ask them to explain their career. Do your homework first and look them up on LinkedIn or Gist.com. Know a bit about them before asking. It’s also okay to plan a list of questions ahead of time.
Recreation
– Ask about what they do for fun and their hobbies.  
Message – Now that you’ve asked all of these questions, your contact will most likely turn the tables and ask, “So, tell me about yourself…”

It’s that simple. Here’s the only challenge you’ll have – your new friend will want to begin asking you questions right from the start, so answer a question and then quickly ask a question that gets them talking. Remember, be interested in them and they can’t help but be interested in you!

Be sure to have a 60-second commercial about what you’re studying and what you’d ultimately like to be doing. This is networking GOLD! You never know who they might know, so don’t be afraid to put it out there.  

Step Three: Help them expand their network.

During your meeting, you’re going to be asking all of these great questions and learning about their career, their clients and their hobbies. The ENTIRE TIME, I want you to be thinking HOW CAN I HELP THIS PERSON? And by help, I mean, who can you connect them to in your network that might help them get closer to their goals. Or the help might be a great book that you can recommend or a helpful website that you’ve seen in the past. (Gist.com is a GREAT one!)

I always say that you create Networking P.O.W.E.R. when you Promote Opportunities While Establishing Relationships.

Step Four: Follow Up.

Here’s how you do it perfectly to a T: Email a quick thank you and summary of what you learned from them right after the meeting. At the very least, get it over to them same day.

Then, to really add some whipped cream to the mocha, have a thank-you note already stamped and ready to mail to their business address (because you’re going to ask them for their business card). Jam out a quick thanks on the card, address it, and mail it right away. When your new friend gets a card from you in the good ol’ US Postal Mail, they’ll think you are the cat’s pajamas.

So, that’s it. Just follow this easy recipe over and over again and you’ll soon be known as the most interesting college student in town. Do it enough, and the job offers will literally begin falling at your feet.

If they’re not, just call or email me and we’ll get to the bottom of it. It’s all in the questions, the rapport building, and the follow-up. Getting the job is just a minor detail!

Editor’s Note: Adam Carroll is an author and speaker who lives in West Des Moines, Iowa with his wife and three kids. A 2007 honorary initiate, Carroll is a frequent presenter at Delta Sigma Pi workshops, including LEAD events and Grand Chapter Congress. For more information or to check out his book, Winning The Money Game, visit www.adamspeaks.com.

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