A great personal network isn’t necessarily one with a lot of connections—it’s one with quality connections who will refer clients to you or endorse you in a way that helps advance your career, says Joanne Black, author of the best-selling book No More Cold Calling.
She lists four types of people who are most likely to fall into this category:
- Happy clients. These customers can speak first-hand to your good work.
- Close friends and family. These folks are presumably at least a bit biased, but they should be willing to help you out.
- People your happy clients have contacted on your behalf. The close connection can be helpful.
- Individuals you’ve met through the people in category 3. You can build a relationship with them separate from the people who introduced you. But don’t try to sell them something or push yourself on them.
When someone agrees to make a referral for you, be sure to ask them to let you know when they’ve done so, then follow up three times, advises Black.
- Within one day of the referral. Get in touch with your original contact to thank her.
- After meeting or speaking with your new contact. Send another thank-you to your original contact and let her know how it went.
- If the referral results in new business or a new opportunity. Update your original contact and let her know what happened.
— Adapted from “How to Build a Network of Contacts,” Geoffrey James, Inc.