You are willing to put yourself out there in front of people.
You have a personal objective to find a goal.
You have a networking objective to build a network that can and will help you when you need it, both today and into the future.
You have a personal elevator pitch, or at least the makings of one.
Now you go out into the world and build your network!
The idea is to put yourself in a position where good things can happen… not by pushing yourself onto others, but rather by pulling them to your side. This is what an Opportunity Prone Network (OPN) is—a vehicle to put you in the right place at the right time.
As you do this, keep in mind that not all connections are made equal. Some people can help you right away, others will need some time. Some can help you but won’t. Some don’t know how to help you. Some are influencers, others are gatekeepers or decision makers.
The more you can categorize the people in your network according to their ability and willingness to help you, the more strategic you can be with your time… and the faster you will reach your desired outcome.
[PRACTICE OPN MAP] List the first 10 networking contacts that come to mind. (It’s OK if you list friends.) For each person, we are going to identify the value of this person to your network: First, next to each name, put what you want from this person. Do you want them to hire you? Introduce you to someone specific? (It may help to do this in a spreadsheet.) If you don’t know what you want from them, that’s OK—list the person as “potential future connection.” But keep in mind, finding a job is a near-term goal, so you will need to mix your list with both long- and short-term connections. Next, by each name jot down the relationship this person has vis-a-vis your end goal. The options are decision maker (has the power to hire you), influencer (has the power to influce a decision maker), connector (can get you in touch with a decision maker… or at least get you closer), or gatekeeper (has the power to actively block you from a decision maker). If you are tempted to put a person into more than one category, don’t. Pick one. Dare to make a decision!If you are like most people, this exercise will seem pretty silly. You probably don’t think of your network in these terms, so you probably won’t get very far. Your page will be filled with “?s” and you’ll be stumped at whether to call someone a gatekeeper or decision maker because you won’t know what you want from them. That’s OK… the whole point of the exercise is to get you thinking about your network in a new way.
[REAL OPN MAP] Name the people you need to meet in order for you to get hired by the company where you want to work. If you don’t know their names, list their titles. Now, work backwards. Use LinkedIn or Facebook to see who you know who can introduce you to them. Where there are gaps, take educated guesses about who you could approach for help. Your sheet now will probably have a lot of “connectors.” That’s good—certainly, it’a lot better than a page full of question marks!Think about how each of the people on the map would respond to your personal elevator pitch… and how you could deliver it for maximum effect. Then, put down the paper, pick up email/the phone/the schedule for the appropriate social event, and get to work!
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