Most of us need to reach out to new people from time to time. Maybe you are selling or developing products or services. Perhaps you want to find the best people to hire. You might need partners for a new venture. Or perhaps you need some other specialized knowledge.
If you know people who fit the bill, you can connect with a simple call, text, visit, or email. But if you don’t know the person you want to reach or if you don’t know who exactly you might contact, then how do you reach out?
Simple. Just grow your network:
- Start with people you know. Make a list of friends, family, and colleagues who might be able to help you. Then start contacting them.
- Ask who they know. Explain what you are up to and why then ask, “Do you know–or know of someone who might know–…?” (Fill in either the name of the person or the type of person you are looking for.)
- Ask for an introduction. “Would you be willing to introduce us?”
- Thank them.
- Repeat. For each person they introduced you to who might know the person or type of person you wish to reach, contact that person and repeat the process above from step 2.
- Reach out. If they introduced you to the person or type of person you wish to connect with, then reach out. Explain what you are up to and ask, “Would you be willing to have a chat/call/meeting and explore what you are focused on and whether what I am doing would make sense for you?”
In your corner,
PS: If you fear inconveniencing people, remember that most people would be honored to help. Consider how you would feel if a friend asked you.
PPS: Make it easy for others to help you. Promise to keep the conversation (at least this part of the conversation) short. Find times that are convenient for them. And thank them for their help.
PPPS: Of course, you can always directly contact the person you wish to speak with. Try sending an email that explains what you are up to and why then asks if they’d be willing to explore what they are up to and the possibility of working together.
PPPPS: Keep growing: you can ask, at the end of any exploratory meeting, who that person thinks you also should speak with.
PPPPPS: If you end up speaking to more than a few people, it may help to have a system to track your contacts, referrals, and conversations with people.