What’s the difference between a depressed millionaire and an abundant, content one?
If you’re anything like me, you’re obsessed with this question. How can I provide enormous wealth for my family, while not destroying my health?
Over the past year, I’ve been trying to learn from the men and women who I most want to emulate. What makes them different? Why am I so enamored by them? What core values do they share?
What I found is this: deep, authentic relationships with like-minded people. Not the superficial kind that are merely for networking, but intimate relationships that are rooted and grounded. This was the key to a financially abundant life, and without these types of relationship, no amount of success mattered.
But how can you cultivate these relationships the right way?
After spending hundreds of hours emailing and meeting people I admire, I have distilled this process to steps that anyone can follow. This is the system that worked for me. It’s not perfect, nor does it include every detail, but if you take the time to learn the reasons behind the system, you will find incredible success.
The 80/20 of Networking
“A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone.” — Henry David Thoreau
Pareto’s Law states that 80 percent of your desired outcomes will come from 20 percent of your inputs. Said another way, 80 percent of the benefits of your network will come from 20 percent of your network. In my case, the numbers are more like 95/5, but it may be different for you.
Nevertheless, the principle remains the same. Focus on the individuals who can multiply your network (or job prospects, references, etc.) exponentially. Why? Because time is a precious commodity and you only have so much of it to spare.
To do this you need to ask yourself two questions:
- Will I be able to learn an enormous amount from this person?
- Is this person well connected in the space that I want to break into?
Knowledge and reach are keys. There are millions of fantastic people out there, but for the purpose of building an authentic network, you need to be smart about how you spend your time.
To be clear, I am not saying to blindly walk over to the “cool kids” table. Be strategic, but also be mindful—which is the purpose of this guide.
Step 01: Make It A Habit
“A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.” — Seth Godin
The most effective way to build an authentic network is to make it a habit. Stop using the shotgun approach, where you send 50 emails a day and go to as many Meetups as possible. It doesn’t work.
To make a habit stick, you need to keep it small and simple. In the case of building relationships, you should focus on reaching out to one potential lead per day. This way you can easily complete the task and stay mindful of your network.
Step 02: Find a Fishing Hole
Let’s say you want to want to break into tech sales. Congratulations: you now have an intention for growing your network. Next, go to LinkedIn and search for “tech sales.”
This should generate a great list of potential contacts.
But before you cast too-wide a net, narrow down your search. Here are the filters I suggest setting:
- Only show 1st and 2nd degree connections
- Only show people in your city
- If you still have over 1k+ results, narrow it further by your alma mater
You are now looking at a hyper-focused group.
Step 03: Qualify the Lead
“It turns out that the people who like their jobs the most are also the ones who are doing the best work, making the greatest impact, and changing the most.” — Seth Godin
Once on LinkedIn, you need to qualify this lead to make sure they are worth your time. Be ruthless when validating leads. The two questions I suggest you ask yourself here are:
- Is this person well connected in their industry? Look at their activity or connections. If someone does not have 500 connections they are not worth your time. Move on. You are looking for leads. People who aren’t well connected won’t serve your purpose.
- Is this person digitally active? Check to see if they have written any articles—a huge indication of their personal interests as well as insight into how they think. If they have no activity, move on. These connections won’t be a huge help.
Note any universities or organizations they are affiliated with before moving on to the next step.
If you are unable to find anything on your lead in Step 02, either go back to Step 01 or stop for the day. Remember, habits are built by doing less than you are capable of doing. You are not giving up.
Step 04: Make It Personal
“Modern society has perfected the art of making people not feel necessary. It’s time for that to end.” — Sebastian Junger
Now that we have validated our lead, it is time to find out a bit more about them in order to craft an effective cold email.
The purpose of this step is to collect data points that will make it easier to find their personal social profiles. Below I have listed the best data to gather. You may be able to find these things out via LinkedIn. If so, great. Move on to the next step.
- Full Name
- Personal Blog
- Company Name
Here are some steps I use to find the details before moving onto the social media stage.
- Search Google with [Their Name] [Their Company]
- If you followed the steps above, the person you are seeking will have an online presence and will hopefully have a company profile. This can be a treasure trove of information. Usually, the type of information here will be similar to what is found on LinkedIn, but it may give you a couple more data points to go farther.
- Search Google with [Their Name] [Their Alma Mater]
- Another great option to use if you were able to find their university on LinkedIn
- Search Google with [Their Name] [Their Industry] [Their City]
- I use this technique to see if any local industry outlets have featured my lead.
- Search Google with [Their Name] [An Organization They Support/Are connected to]
- Often on LinkedIn, you will be able to see what organizations or philanthropy’s the person is involved with, if so, this can be an excellent way to find a profile as well.
- Search Google with [Their Name] [Blog]
- If they have a blog that will be the #1 source for finding the personal information we need. So if you get a hit from this step, then stop and move on to outreach. Your job is done.
If you are unable to find out any more about your lead using the techniques in this step, is unlikely that they are well connected.
Remember to be ruthless, and mindful of why you are holding on to this person.
Step 05: Finding the Golden Nugget
“Absorb what is useful. Discard what is not. Add what is uniquely your own.” — Bruce Lee
Now that you have great background information on your lead, the next step is to find the golden nugget that will drastically increase your response rate.
First, start on Facebook by entering the full name and the college that your lead went to, scanning through the images to see if you find any resemblance to the image that was on LinkedIn. In my experience, this method has a 70–80 percent chance of working. If not, then start adding more of the details you found in Step 03.
If you were unable to find your lead on Facebook, move to Twitter, Instagram, and Medium, following the same search process as you did on Facebook.
Once you have found the social profile of your lead, investigate it for 10–15 minutes. Read their Facebook posts. Scan their Twitter feed. See what they post on Instagram. By doing this, you will start to understand them on a more personal level.
To be clear: DON’T BE CREEPY. You are only looking for hints at things they are interested in, not clues in an FBI investigation. For example, if Dan has posted four articles about cycling, you can be pretty confident he enjoys cycling. You don’t also need to know that he was at Homeslice with Jackie last Thursday.
Be diligent, not a stalker.
Step 06: Dive Deeper
At this point, we should have our Golden Nugget. If you can already hold a conversation about whatever you found, amazing, move on. If not, do a little research—enough to proficient in a subject matter that they care about. Don’t make yourself out to be an expert. Just spend 20–30 minutes learning about the subject matter.
You will notice I have not said anything about researching the company. Why? Because it doesn’t matter. You are trying to connect with them to learn what they know! This isn’t an interview. If you can develop a personal connection, your odds of creating a relationship improve.
Step 07: Outreach
Now comes the easy part. The outreach. Yes, you read that correctly: because you have been intentional about your lead, it makes the outreach almost effortless. There are two parts to this process (1) The Fire Starter and (2) The Follow Through.
The Fire Starter
First, you need to find their email. I suggest using Voila Norbert or checking out this great article on how to effortlessly find emails.
Now, what should you say? You need to send an excellent cold email. I have included a script below that has had an 80 percent response rate for me. Feel free to copy it directly, or just use aspects of it when you are crafting your own Fire Starter email.
Subject Line: Quick Question
Hey [Lead Name]
My name is [Your Name]. I came across your name as I was doing research on [Industry you are Interested In], I hope you don’t mind me reaching out. I saw that you are interested in [golden nugget], [interesting fact you learned about your golden nugget.]
[Validate yourself] After spending 18 months in finance, I left my job three months ago to pursue journalism, specifically magazine writing, full-time. Since my journey started, I have been able to write for CNBC, NY Observer, and Thought Catalog as well as growing my email list to thousands of readers.
[Explain Your Interest] Although I am very new to this world, the more I read and learn, the more fascinated I am. I believe there is a huge need for good, honest journalism in America. A couple of my friends who work in journalism in [Your City] told me you would be a great person to reach out to and learn from.
[Call to Action] I would love to get your career advice for 15–20 minutes to find out more about your view of journalism and magazine feature writing, specifically [Career Fact You Found In Step 03 or Step 04].
[Make Yourself Flexible] I can meet near your work/home or anywhere that is most convenient for you. Would it be possible if we meet?
As I said above, this email had an 80 percent response rate for me, so if you are receiving a response rate below 40 percent, you may want to rearrange some of the elements of the email or subject line. However, all of the components are there, so focus on the system not the specifics.
The Follow Through
Now that you’ve had a call or a coffee with your lead via the Fire Starter email, it is time to seal the deal with the Follow Through.
I suggest sending this email a week or two after meeting. I have included a script below. Note: this is not a thank you email, but rather a strategic move that is critical to the whole system—so take your time.
Subject Line: Re: Quick Question (should be a reply to your Fire Starter email)
I just wanted to follow-up to thank you for taking the time out of your Sunday afternoon to speak with me. I have already purchased Inside Reporting, and I will continue to improve my deep research [insert a specific piece of advice that they gave you and do it!].
[Leave the door open to follow up in the future] If possible, I would love to follow-up in a month or two to update you on my progress?
You have now secured an excellent initial connection.
But it doesn’t stop here. It is up to you to stay in touch and cultivate the relationship. The key is actually to follow the advice the person gives you!
Start A Fire
I challenge you to reach out to one person per day for 30 days using the system I outlined above. Not only will you make some great connections, but you will also develop the confidence necessary to build and maintain a network in the long run.
If you are purposeful and intentional with this system, you will make more connections than you know what to do with. But make sure you always keep the grand plan in mind when you move forward with meetings.
Be mindful about who you are meeting with and why to make sure you are not simply doing it to stroke your ego. Everyone hates a bottom feeder. Don’t be one.
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Benjamin is the founder of Fully Rich Life, a blog that is focused on helping men decrease stress and anxiety, find more focus, and be more present. Benjamin also helps businesses tell better stories with authentic content strategies. Join thousands of readers in his free 21 Day Mindfulness Challenge.