Steps to Networking – Step 29: Identifying People

Written By Rick Frishman Published April 5th, 2010

STEP 29: Identifying people

Before you begin to network:

• Identify individuals you want to meet
• Research your targets
• Have a marketable expertise

When selecting potential targets, think first in terms of categories. Do you want to connect with a surgeon who specializes in repairing cardiac valves, a moving company that can safely transport valuable art works across the country or an automobile mechanic who can expertly repair vintage Mustang convertibles?

After you’ve identified your category, you may discover that you don’t know people who can help you reach your objective. Generally, the best approach is research. Books, articles, Web sites and your network members can usually give you names of and information about your potential targets. In your research, learn as much as possible about your potential targets because the information you acquire could be the basis for making connections.

Targets that you identify may be beyond your reach. Trying to contact them directly is usually impossible so investigate whether you can reach them through intermediaries.

NETWORKING NUGGET

When Dennis Crow of Pierce & Crow, a leading high technology executive search firm, began his business, he had a strong background in high tech operations, but no executive search experience. So he called upon social friends and business contacts including those who had invested in his former business. Crow told them about his new business, his plans and asked if they would introduce him to key people in their businesses.

One contact, a partner in Silicone Valley’s most powerful venture capital firm, invited Crow to his office where they discussed Crow’s plans and prospects. At Crow’s request, the venture capitalist agreed to send a letter introducing Crow to his business buddies. Crow drafted a letter, which his contact edited, put on his letterhead and sent to 44 of the who’s who of the venture capital community.

Within six weeks, Crow had 44 appointments. Not only did he meet 44 top high tech executives, but virtually all of them had the venture capitalist’s letter sitting prominently on their desks. Although it took time and hard work to get their business, Crow credits the letter for jump starting his business and getting it launched.

Turn to your network to make the connections. Jeff Kahn, Chief Strategic Officer of Ruder Finn, Inc., suggests using line extensions to map your route. If you want to get to Dr. X, make a list of all of the information you’ve learned about him through your research: where he works, where he lives, his background, his affiliations and his interests. Then draw a line from Dr. X through your network contacts until you find connections.

• Examine you network membership list and identify who might lead you to your target.
• Ask network members if they know Dr. X, if they have contacts who can perform delicate cardiac valve surgery or know of people who have suffered from heart valve problems. If so, contact them.
• Spread the word widely. Let everyone in your network know your objective and your target.
• Ask your network members if they have contacts who work in health care and insurance and, if so, get in touch with their contacts.

Ask your contacts if they know, or know of, each recommended doctor and/or his/her patients. If they do, ask about their experience. Also ask:

Were they happy with the doctor’s work?
Were there problems?
What did they like or dislike?
Would they use that doctor again?
If they don’t personally know about the doctor, ask if they know others who do and if you can use their names to contact them.

Also check with the doctors’ hospitals, local medical associations, your insurance agent and even your lawyer.

As we previously explained, to play in the networking league, you must be prepared to give something in exchange for each contact’s help. In chapter two, we asked you to inventory your personal assets. We requested that you list what you could provide to reciprocate for your target’s help. Review that list and if you haven’t completed it, please do so now before continuing further.

(Excerpted from NETWORKING MAGIC: Making Connections That Will Change Your Life By Rick Frishman and Jill Lublin With Mark Steisel)


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