HBR

How to make the right connections when you don’t have an “In”

by DORIE CLARK, HBR

November 9, 2017 | 6:00 pm
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Developing a robust network is critical to your professional success. After all, it’s often your primary source of business opportunities and referrals. But what if you don’t know the right people who can help you? Perhaps you’re new to your field, or you’ve changed locations – but regardless of the reason, the problem is the same: If you’re starting with the wrong connections, how can you hope to work your way into the right ones?

Here are four strategies to consider.

EMBRACE SPECIFICITY.

Your existing contacts probably want to help you; they just don’t know how, especially if your new realm is outside their area of expertise. So don’t just hope they intuit what you need. Instead, get specific about the types of people you’d like to meet.

BE WILLING TO ACCEPT “SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION.”

If you’re willing to take the extra time and effort to cultivate multiple chains of connections, you can often end up in the right place.

SPEAK FOR FREE.

What if you still don’t have any friends or contacts who can be helpful to your business? In that case, speak for free, even in unlikely places. Todd Herman, now a performance coach for executives and top athletes, grew up as a sports fanatic in Western Canada, and began speaking for free to local youth sports associations about his work coaching teens. The talks kickstarted his business and opened up new opportunities he couldn’t have imagined.

CREATE CONTENT TO ATTRACT THE RIGHT PEOPLE TO YOU.

When I started my marketing strategy consulting business in 2006, I didn’t know the right people at all. I began blogging frequently for publications like HBR and Forbes, ensuring that my target audience became familiar with my ideas and, over time, recognized my name. It’s an effective strategy that compounds over time.

(Dorie Clark is a marketing strategist and professional speaker who teaches at Duke University).

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by DORIE CLARK, HBR

November 9, 2017 | 6:00 pm
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