How have you been this August? My family and I took a motorhoming holiday and it's been amazing to get away from home (a.k.a the office!)
Our motorhome “Connie”
Whilst away, I reflected on my 129 podcast interviews, and thought about the one thing that stood out. The people with the most funds raised, the quickest growth, the most invited to speak at conferences are the ones with the strongest network.
The best advice my father gave me was to grow a network. I still remember him running through all the different employers in his life and how they all came through his network.
To be honest, growing a network is partly why I started my podcast.
As a networking nerd, one thing I've been doing this year is being more methodical about building my personal CRM. CRM (customer relationship management) is how businesses manage customer relationships, but the same principles can be applied to a personal network.
In my digital note-taking app, I have one page per contact. I will note their contact details, company, role, location, how we met, birthday, any tags, and my meeting notes. Every time I have an interaction with someone, I'll note it down.
“But how do you grow and use a network?”
Why. I thought you'd never ask.
How to use a network
First, list all the areas where you need help in your life, be it in your career, business, relationship, health or personal finance. You might not think you need help, but we can always do better. It also helps to be clear on your goals in each of these areas in your life.
Think about something you're on the verge of acting on. Something you're committed to doing but you may not know how. Focus on the methods. A good place to start is to focus on fundamentals. So for a business it might be about sales, marketing, finance or recruiting. For health it might be about diet or exercise. Use the fundamentals as a starting point.
Think of someone who might have experience in the thing you want help with. Don't think of advisors as people who have more experience than you. Anyone can be asked: this is what I'm wrestling with. How have you approached this in the past?
“A good rule of thumb is to come with one topic you definitely want to address and a short list of three to five questions that will get them the clarity they need on that topic”
Don't just ask about their experience with the thing. Instead, structure the question as follows:
Start with a verb of what's in motion right now e.g. "I'm raising money..." or "I'm training for...." or "I'm planning a birthday party..."
Provide a few data points on what you've learned already e.g. "This is why we're raising money right now..." or "This is what I've tried so far..."
And finish with "What do you think I should do next?"
It might help to send the topic in advance, so they have time to collect their thoughts. But do whatever feels right. This might put too much pressure on the conversation, so use your judgement.
Don't "boil the ocean" and cover too many topics. Keep to one topic and go as deep as the time allows. My rule is to ask for no more than 20 minutes when I reach out to people. If they're enjoying themselves, they will go on for longer.
Keep playing back and paraphrasing the response you're getting to encourage the person to keep talking, and also to signal you're understanding what they're saying.
Don't expect them to drive the meeting. You set the agenda, you keep to time, and you ask the questions you need to make best use of the time.
To keep your network healthy, one of the quickest and easiest ways is to keep in touch regularly. This means sending a quick email every few months with an article you think someone would find interesting, checking in on something you talked about, introducing someone (via the double opt-in introduction) or giving them an update on something they helped you with in your last conversation. Everyone likes to know if the advice they gave made a difference.
Let me know if you find this useful. This was my quick download on growing and using a network, inspired by the excellent article mentioned above from First Round Review.
Now onto the content.
On building a second brain
A few months ago I went down a rabbit hole of personal knowledge management. My life has now changed forever. The key concept behind it is best described by Tiago Forte in this article. He said:
“How many brilliant ideas have you had and forgotten? How many insights have you failed to take action on? How much useful advice have you slowly forgotten as the years have passed?
We feel a constant pressure to be learning, improving ourselves, and making progress. We spend countless hours every year reading, listening, and watching informational content. And yet, where has all that valuable knowledge gone? Where is it when we need it? Our brain can only store a few thoughts at any one time. Our brain is for having ideas, not storing them.
Building A Second Brain is a methodology for saving and systematically reminding us of the ideas, inspirations, insights, and connections we’ve gained through our experience. It expands our memory and our intellect using the modern tools of technology and networks.”
It's like this guy described everything I was feeling when I had read an amazing article and later forgotten it. I've since been absorbing everything Tiago has written and am building my own digital brain in Roam Research.
Here's a great article to get you started: PKM for Knowledge Workers.
On remote working
I enjoyed this epic put-down by Jerry Seinfeld. It resonated with me because of the spirit behind it: that in-person interaction is not dead, that we are all naturally social beings and we can't wait to get back to being together in person.
Energy, attitude and personality cannot be “remoted” through even the best fiber optic lines.
Check it out: So you think NY is dead - New York Times Opinion Section
A wonderful quote from John O'Donohue:
“When was the last time you had a great conversation? A conversation that wasn't just two intersecting monologues, but when you overheard yourself saying things you never knew you knew, that you heard yourself receiving from somebody words that found places within you that you thought you had lost, and the sense of an “eventive" conversation that brought the two of you into a different plain and then forthly, a conversation that continued to sing afterwards for weeks in your mind? Conversations like that are food and drink for the soul.”
H/T David Perrell
Thank you for reading this. I'd love to hear how you are. What articles have you found inspiring? Books you've read? Thoughts, trials, joys. I'm all ears.