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Want to Expand Your Network? Look to Provide Value

Reaching out to expand your network takes a bit of research, but will pay off handsomely in creating powerful relationships.

By
Stever Robbins
5-minute read
Episode #398

Ways Your Jobs Connect

In reaching out, always think of how you can make the other person’s life better.

Especially when establishing relationships within your own company, you can use the connection of your jobs as how you connect.

At Intuit, I was the project manager for the original development of what is now the Quicken Visa Card. Partway through the effort, I realized that our credit card customers might call our support phone lines not just for software help, but also if their statement didn’t arrive on time, or possibly also if they wanted to dispute a charge. Those weren’t requests our support department was set up to handle.

This was a perfect opportunity to meet the support department. I hopped on the phone (this was back when people used phones for voice communication) and called: “This is Stever from Product Development. We’re developing the Quicken Visa Card, and I was wondering if there’s anything we can do to make it easier for the support department to handle support calls. Would you like to get together and discuss how we can help?”

It turned out that the support department didn’t even know our product was under development. We met in person and, through our shared job concerns, developed a relationship.

Connect in Ways Other People Don’t

In reaching out, always think of how you can make the other person’s life better. My approach to the support Vice President wasn’t “let’s just meet,” it was “let’s meet to find out how I can make your life easier and keep you from being blindsided by this new product.”

When you’re choosing your connection reason—asking about projects, challenges, or jobs—try to find a connection that other people won’t be asking about. Asking Roz Savage, “What was it like to row across the Atlantic all alone?” is a question that she gets from so many people that she might be tired of answering it. But asking her, “What mental resources did you draw on and how can my kids develop them?” will get her attention in a very different way.

Your network will get you noticed, will get you favors, and will give you the chance to be valuable to others. Reaching out to people who will help you succeed is the first step to building your network. Find a point of connection around projects, challenges, or job responsibilities. Choose a question to ask and a way you can be valuable to them, even if it’s “only” by being a respectful admirer and learner of theirs. Then reach out and ask for a meeting. At worst, they’ll say “No” (or they might ask you to jump into shark infested waters to cut loose their sea anchor for them). At best, however, you’ll begin building the foundation for your future success.

This is Stever Robbins. Follow Get-It-Done Guy on Twitter and Facebook. I run webinars and other programs to help people be Extraordinarily Productive, and build extraordinary careers. If you want to know more, visit SteverRobbins.com/subscribe.

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Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.