Five Tips from Ben to Broaden Your Network

March 14, 2017

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The lovely folks at TDi have asked me to write this piece because, being new in Melbournethey’ve noticed that I’ve had to rapidly try and build networks in not one, but two new cities (I’ll be looking after both a Melbourne and Sydney cohort for our Two Feet program, for which we are currently taking applications).

Being new to a place or an industry, or if you’re just trying to connect with the right people, there’s a few pretty basic steps you can take (for free) to help you on your way.

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1)    Set up a great LinkedIn profile

Spending a few hours ensuring you have a great LinkedIn will allow anybody you approach to get a good sense of who you are. There’s loads of good content out there about how to make a great LinkedIn profile, including this article by Bernard Marr.

I’ve viewed literally thousands of profiles on LinkedIn now and it still never ceases to amaze me how many people get this wrong. I think by far the funniest/worst profile I saw was a college student in the US who’s profile picture was him competing in Greco-Roman wrestling and slamming some poor chap to the ground. It made me audibly gasp.

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Don’t make this your LinkedIn profile picture…

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2)    Reaching out on email – keep it short!

Email is still arguably the channel through which to network in the modern era. The problem is you are competing against a lot of things for space in someone’s inbox – so make it count as the delete button is always just a click away.

Do 10 minutes of homework (e.g. google ‘name + LinkedIn’) to see what the person you’re trying to connect with’s interests are so you can best tailor your email. This blog from Hubspot goes into a lot of depth about how to connect on email in an effective way.

Now – by far the best advice I’ve gotten about emailing people in general: brevity is best.

Guy Kawasaki has written about how emails should never be more than 5 sentences long. People are time poor, and that’s more and more true the higher up the food chain you go.

One or two sentences explaining who you are, then get to what you are asking for – that’s it. If you prattle on you’re destined for the trash bin, and it’ll make you seem unsure of what you want.

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3)    Rapportive

There’s an obvious question after point #2 – that’s all well and good, but how do you get someone’s email address in the first place? If it’s not listed on the website, there’s a pretty nifty tool that can help you guess.

Rapportive is a free Google chrome add-on, which is powered by LinkedIn, that can help you see if you’ve got the right email address for someone. Simply type in someone’s name when you’re composing an email, and if it’s connected to their LinkedIn, their profile page will come up magically on the right. Just guess with the usual email formats “firstname@website.com” or “firstname.lastname@website.com” and see what comes up.

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4)    Meetup groups

Nothing replaces meeting someone face to face. If you want to connect with people in your industry, head tomeetup.com and look for groups in the area. There are always events on and it’s a great way to meet like-minded people with similar interests.

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5)    Did I mention LinkedIn?

In my view, LinkedIn is the pre-eminent way to connect with people in a professional capacity. If you try to connect with someone, you can add a note and it forces you to be brief (300 characters or less). People can easily see who you are, and people are usually pretty open to being approached on LinkedIn.

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As I’ve found, it’s incredibly hard to distil networking down into a listicle, but if you would like to know more, feel free to reach out to me directly at ben@tdi.org.au

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