How to Grow Your Network With Pre-Existing Relationships

By Claire Wasserman

The number one way I’ve expanded my network is by being a connector. When I meet new people and learn about what they do (or want to do!), I start thinking about my network and anyone I can potentially introduce them to. However, never connect people just for the sake of connecting; the connection should be beneficial for everyone. And the only way to know what someone is looking for in a connection is to ask them. Connections need to be meaningful, and it’s an important responsibility to connect people in a way that is respectful of everyone’s time, energy, and interests. Here’s how to connect:

  1. Ask permission of each person you want to connect with before you connect them. This is called the “double opt-in.”
  2. Be clear about why you’re making the connection and what they can get out of it.
  3. Be gracious. If you are the person who is being connected, express your appreciation. Also, make sure you actually follow up with the person you’ve been connected to, otherwise, you’ll look flaky and it will reflect poorly on the original connector. 
  4. Keep them updated. Whatever happens next, keep the original connector updated so that they know you followed through and what the result was.

To make connecting easier, take the time to get all your contacts organized. Start by going through your LinkedIn (you can actually export your contacts), your inbox, phone, and wherever else you’re keeping track of people you know. To keep everything organized in one place, I use a template entitled Personal CRM (which stands for customer relationship management) from an awesome platform called Airtable. You can check it out here.

Remember, connections can be made anywhere, anytime, and with anyone. Never underestimate what you and those you’re connected to can do for each other—if not today, then in the future. You’ve got to seize every opportunity you have and create them when you don’t. You may not get a yes, every time but that’s okay; one yes can change your life. I promise you; the doors will open. Now all you have to do is walk through them.


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