When I began my coaching, speaking and writing business, we had just moved to Charlotte, North Carolina from Los Angeles. We knew only five people in Charlotte and two were the realtors, the builder, his rep, and the lawyer who closed the deal.
We moved 2500 miles from our network of friends and associates and opened a new business – one dependent upon contacts and building relationships! It wasn’t an ideal situation. I had to build a network and build it fast.
I decided to take a geographic and subject matter focus for my business. I didn’t think that these specific clients were the only ones I would work with, it’s just that I had to start with a clearly defined target market. I narrowed my focus.
Later on, when I had a better sense for what the opportunities were, I could change my focus. But I immediately went to work on what I call a five-by-five process.
I identified several industry leaders, the one or two people whose names I had who seemed to be leaders in the field. I called them, and sincerely asked for their help.
I explained I was new to the area, didn’t know many people and could sure use their help. I asked them for an appointment, suggesting a day and time, and told them I wanted to pick their brains since I was told they knew quite a bit about the subject I was researching.
Most of the time, this worked. People want to help. It’s a fundamental human need for people to help other human beings, we’re hard-wired that way. Here are some other reasons this works:
- You’re not selling them anything. You’re doing research. You want to learn.
- People like the opportunity to demonstrate their expertise.
- You’re giving them a specific day and time to meet (be flexible, of course)
The five-by-five program is about exponentially expanding your network of people and building relationships in your target market. Your objective is to get five names from each meeting you have, five new people to contact. The multiplier effect is amazing.
It worked for me. It can work for anyone. The key is sincerity and authenticity. You’re not selling anything, you’re there to learn. If you stay with that focus you can’t go wrong.
What have been your experiences building a new network?