First Round Capital has a terrific newsletter, First Round Review. If you don’t get it, you should go here and subscribe. They constantly publish great pieces on entrepreneurship, managing your career and building a great business. I’ve read a lot of networking articles over the years. But I was really drawn into one of their recent posts, How To Become Insanely Well Connected. There is a lot of great info in this piece, but one bit of advice really struck me regarding building my dream contact list.
What do you want your network to look like, and what are you trying to achieve? If you know who your top 5 dream contacts are and what you want to talk to them about, you’ll be ready when you run into someone who knows them. Likewise, it’s good to have a forcing function for keeping those connections healthy — consider creating a rolling reminder to get in touch.
It made me realize that my network was developing in an ad hoc way. One good meeting would lead to an intro to someone else, and that meeting might lead me to someone else of interest. But it had been a long time since I had sat down, thought deliberately about how I wanted my network to grow, and what new experiences and relationships would be most relevant to how I’m thinking about the future.
I realized that while my interest in public policy is growing, and as I tried to think through how I could make a great impact in this area, my personal network has almost no one with this kind of experience.
And that brought me back to the work of Anders Ericsson in the area of deliberate practice. If you’re not familiar with Anders’ work, this Freakonomics podcast interview is a good place to start.
It reminded me that if you want to make progress in any particular area, you have to have a deliberate effort around making it happen. And as it relates to building and expanding my network in new directions, I have some work to do.