Network Pyramid Capstones

DiagramThere are many of these experiments and studies that offer wonderful insight as to how you can both become better at networking as well as have a better network. Here is one in particular.

In the 1960’s, Harvard social psychologist, Stanley Milgram studied what he termed the “small world” problem. He wanted to gain a better understanding of how people were connected to one another.

In one experiment, he sent to 160 randomly selected individuals in Omaha, Nebraska a packet with the name and address of a stockbroker who worked in Boston (and lived in Sharon, Massachusetts). Milgram instructed each individual to write their name on the roster in the packet and then mail the packet to a friend or acquaintance who they thought would get it closer to the stockbroker, and so on until it reached the Boston broker.

On average the packets reached the broker in six steps (thus the phrase “six degrees of separation”). While Milgram initially reasoned that if the packets started from 160 random points, the packets would arrive at their destination with similar randomness. Many of the chain packets, however, followed the same asymmetrical pattern to the Boston stockbroker.  In all, half of the responses that got to the stockbroker were delivered by three people.  Hence, the phrase “six degrees of separation” doesn’t mean that everyone is linked to everyone else in just six steps.  It does mean that a very small number of people are linked to everyone else in a few steps, and the rest of us are linked to the world through those few.

There is an easy way to explore this idea.  Write down the names of 40 friends and trace them backwards to how they were introduced to you.  This exercise will reveal that what people term as their “social circles” are really inverted pyramids. In other words, a large percentage of your contacts likely originated from a relatively few number of individuals. Those at the tops of these pyramids are your Network Pyramid Capstones.

Here is the consideration for you. If you are working to “jump start” your network or determine where your time is best spent, first, find your Network Pyramid Capstones. Then take one or all of your Network Pyramid Capstones to lunch, breakfast, for coffee or beer or whatever.

That is, really make an effort to develop a great relationship with these people – find ways to help them and be sure they understand how they can help you. These individuals have been instrumental in building your network to this point.  It is likely they will do more of the same in the future.

Networking is Nothing New

S (Old Book)Networking is simply human interaction and it has been with us since the beginning of time. These human interactions are really just the relationships we have with one another. How we connect. Some connections are passing. Some connections are more lasting. Some connections are seemingly lifelong.

Given this, networking is, more or less, really just human behavior. Talking. Listening. Understanding. Being empathetic, encouraging, inspiring, smiling, laughing, and being a friend. Thus, all human behaviors involving other people are relationship-based and is networking.

The wonderful thing about human behavior is that there are patterns to it. While the patterns may not be perfectly predictable – as you might find with a chemical reaction or a physics experiment – there are patterns generally there.

Whenever there are patterns, however, there is curiosity. And whenever there is curiosity, you will find people of science trying to explain the patterns through studying, observing, and examining them.

Human behavior involving our relationships is no different. The social sciences – sociology, psychology, and economics, just to name a few – for years have examined how humans relate to one another, both personally and professionally.

30-Second Commercial – Part 8 of 8

Silver modern StopwatchIf you think about it, considering all these different options and orders, there are literally dozens (if not hundreds) of different 30-second commercials for you. So do not stop at just one. Rather select a handful of the ones that you feel are the most powerful for you and where you are the most comfortable saying them. Go with these.

Like anything, however, you will not get good at delivering your 30-second commercials without preparation, planning and practice.

Write Them: Using something as basic as a small note pad or 3×5 cards, neatly write or type your commercials for future reference.

Review Them: Once you have them written out, keep them handy so that you can practice or review them from time to time (just a few minutes each week is plenty).

Use Them: When someone then asks, “Who are you?”, do not hesitate. Have the courage to launch into one of your 30-second commercials (picking the appropriate one for the time and place).

Refine Them: Your 30-second commercials are always a work in process. You should look for ways to update them, make them more clear or better represent you.

30-Second Commercial – Part 7 of 8

Silver modern StopwatchIt is good to have an effective 30-second commercial, but it is even better to have more than just one. Think about it. There’s a lot to what you do and there is no way you can convey it all in 30 seconds.

So, have different commercials to convey various things. Also, consider that no two people are the same and no two situations are the same. Thus, it only stands to reason that you have different messages to fit different situations and people.

Plus, if you consistently say the same thing, eventually what you have to say becomes “white noise.” So do not fall into the trap of having a “one size fits all” commercial. Here are some considerations for developing some variety in what you have to say.

First, as I indicated earlier, develop a variety of Message Bodies … In some settings be informative or educational (at a stodgy business afterhours) … In some be flippant or amusing (say, at a holiday party) … In others, you might consider something with a little shock value (where you really want to grab some attention quickly).

Next, there is more than one reason WHY people should refer (or use) you, so share a different piece of confidence or credibility building information from time to time. Think about it.

What are the things that uniquely qualify you to be their best option? Perhaps there are things the set your company apart and those things attribute to you by association. Maybe it is the process you use.

Each of these can lend credibility to you in a particular situation … It is important to know how and appropriately insert that one in your 30-second commercial. (Whether it’s you, your company or the process you use).

In addition to using different ways to establish credibility, you can ask for different things in your 30-second commercials.

Depending on the setting you can outright ask for people to refer you clients … Or you might find in a situation that you are best served to ask for connections to strategic partners (accountants, attorneys, etc.)… Or you might determine that it is most appropriate to ask for information (such as details on networking events, job transition groups or background on people).

The point is that this is another way in which you can create some diversity within your 30-second commercials.

Finally, in addition to changing the MESSAGE BODIES, relying on different things to establish CONFIDENCE, and altering the REQUEST, you can also switch up the order in which you execute the framework.

The above framework is a suggested guide. It is not an ironclad rule of thumb, however. Lead with something to inspire CONFIDENCE or, perhaps, your strong definite REQUEST, or even an amusing MESSAGE BODY.

It does not matter how you slice or dice the framework. The key is conveying the message with all the bits and pieces in about 30 seconds.