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Who’s on your List of 20 and in your Network of 90?

March 23, 2011

If you’re looking to grow your business (and who isn’t?) here’s a technique we learned via a recent podcast with author Michael Port. In his best-seller “Book Yourself Solid,” Port introduces a method for outreach that, done daily, he claims can be transformative.

Rather than think of networking as something you do to meet new people, Port recommends defining it as developing deeper relationships with people you already know. Then Port offers up a new term — direct outreach – to mean meeting people that you don't yet know but would like to know.

Why? Because rather than casting a wide net and trying to get on everyone and anyone’s radar on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, Port argues you’ll get better results by being strategic about who could really help you.

With us so far? Good. Now let’s move from the “defining” part to the doing part.

First, you make your List of 20. These are people in your industry with whom you’d like to develop professional relationships. They are people you don’t yet know – influencers in your market who could have a significant impact on your business through their referrals, introductions, and advice. Limiting your list to 20 keeps your focus expansive, yet small enough that you're able to focus on each person individually.

What you do next is this: reach out to one person on this list each day, starting with #1 on the list and working your way down, one name per day. You might mention them in your blog post or post a comment on theirs. You might tweet about them or Retweet a few of their tweets. Or you might send them fan mail: an email or note telling them what you admire about their work. Here’s the important part: don’t ask for anything in return.

Do this each business day and in the course of a month, you will have connected with every person on your List of 20. Port says this should take about five minutes a day – definitely doable no matter how busy you are.

Ready for Part 2 of his plan?

Next you make your Network of 90. These are folks you already know and like and believe to be valuable contacts. Your daily marching orders with this group are to introduce two people in your network who might find each other relevant (personally or professionally) and to share something relevant or helpful with one other person in your network. That’s it.

Who’s up for trying it? For those of you raising your hands, good luck. And please, let us know how it goes.

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