As we continue our exploration of contact categorization and organization systems, we return to a modern networking classic. Published in 2017, J. Kelly Hoey’s “Build your Dream Network” aims to cut through the noise and help us build real and powerful relationships. And as we discussed in our review in 2020, it does just that. From start to finish, Hoey offers an engaging, straightforward guide to creating the network that you want and need – in our digital and hyper-connected world, networks have become vital to personal success.

When we first explored “Build your Dream Network”, we discovered three fundamental truths of networking:

    • It is an essential and continual activity
    • You control the effort, not the outcome
    • Networking is everywhere

These three truths may appear overwhelming at first glance: how do you manage to do it all? But as we discussed in our analysis of the “The Dunbar Way” and “The Ferrazzi Way”, approaching networking with a plan and a system that works for you can make these truths easily manageable.

What are your goals?

Traditionally, networking has been seen as an exercise in meeting people – the more the merrier. Meeting people at events, sending e-mails, and posting on social media are all central to networking, but when done without a clear goal or system, they become very ineffective. Instead, Hoey highlights the need to approach networking by connecting your goals to your contacts. How can a network help you get to where you want to be, and how do you build that network? Hoey breaks it down into five broad goals and offers valuable tips on how to leverage your network to help you reach each of them, including:

  1. Career Change
  2. Media and PR Development
  3. Crowdfunding
  4. Start-Up Development
  5. Influencing

Image used with the permission of the author J Kelly Hoey

Connecting for Career Change

Finding a job is often the first thing we think of when discussing networking. Whether you’re a new grad looking to land your first job or a seasoned professional entering a new industry, the people you know can make all the difference. But as Kelly makes clear, sending a generic job request to your network isn’t the ideal way to do that. In fact, she brings up 3 crucial questions to ask yourself:

  1. What jobs or roles interest you?
  2. Are you ready for the job?
  3. Who has your dream job or works with your dream employer?

Answering these questions allows you to use your time effectively. With a clear vision, you can update your resume and LinkedIn to reflect your new goals, research career possibilities and opportunities, acquire necessary skills, and map out how you’ll get there.

More importantly, it ensures you aren’t wasting your network’s time either. As Kelly notes, asking general background questions in an informational interview isn’t a good use of anyone’s time – doing prior research to ask targeted, detailed questions provides you value and shows your contacts you are genuinely interested. Following up and checking in after reaching out to connections is another key to any job search (hint: consider Dunbar’s or Ferrazzi’s methods to stay on top of follow-ups!).

Image used with the permission of the author J Kelly Hoey

Connecting for Media and PR

Everyone has a story – whether it’s climbing the ranks to become an executive or starting a new financial technology firm – and everyone can share it with their friends, family, and colleagues. But how do you create a story that draws in media attention and helps craft a strong public image? It can be tempting to simply ask your network to share your story or connect you with those that can. But that’s often asking too much from your network. In fact, you’re asking them to do a majority of your job for you. Before doing so, you’ll need to figure out 3 things:

  1. What is your story?
  2. What is your media angle?
  3. Who should be sharing it?

With these 3, you can offer media organizations and influencers an answer to the most important question: “Why should I care?”. With a strong answer, these connections may willingly become your brand ambassadors, sharing your story to the world.

Connecting for Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is often misunderstood; having a dream, strong pitch, and experienced team doesn’t guarantee investors. Instead, as Kelly highlights, “the key to fund-raising success is to ask and activate existing networks”. Doing so requires 3 steps:

  1. Reach out to overlooked connections in your network for support
  2. Continue to update close contacts with campaign information and milestones
  3. Inspire connections to share their support with their networks

By mobilizing the support of people that know you, you can leverage their experience, connections, and feedback to reach funding goals and grow your business. Kelly recommends putting your ego aside to reach into the depths of your network, being creative with who and how you reach out, planning detailed communications strategies, and continuing to follow up even after the crowdfunding campaign is over.

Image used with the permission of the author J Kelly Hoey

Connecting for Start-ups

Networks aren’t only critical for finding investors for your business – they can also play a key role in developing your brand and marketing campaigns. It’s easy to sporadically ask your network to share LinkedIn posts or introduce you to further investors, but these efforts are ineffective if done without a clear strategy. Developing a regular and steady flow of communications with your network instead will create a cohort of staunch supporters who know you, your business, and want to see you succeed. Kelly offers a clear pathway to building this support base:

  1. Create a contact list of people who should hear about your wins and losses
  2. Choose the platform you want to use to share your stories
  3. Decide when and how often you want to send out communications
  4. Stick to your plan! if you decide on weekly emails, keep sending weekly emails
  5. Craft the right message for your purpose – balance educating and informing with entertaining!
  6. Consider sharing across social media to reach an even greater network

Regular communications done right will build trust and respect within your network. Contacts will feel valued and stay connected with your journey. Over time, this trust can be leveraged to help push marketing campaigns, raise further funds, and draw in talent.

Images used with the permission of the author, J Kelly Hoey

Image used with the permission of the author J Kelly Hoey

Connecting for Influencing

Lastly, Kelly tells us the story of Varelie Croes, a former tax professional that quit her job to share the stories and knowledge she had accumulated over her years in financial services. This transition didn’t occur overnight, nor did it happen by chance. Varelie took a year to develop her story, build her online presence, and build a network that could get her on a TED Talk stage. By the time she finished her first TEDxWomen Talk, she had created a vast social presence and network that understood her goals and story and wanted to listen to what she had to say – something she couldn’t have fathomed a year earlier.

Hoey explains the 3 key steps that got Valerie there, and that can help anyone have their story heard:

  1. Take a look at your current network and expand it according to your goals
  2. Make sure people know what you know – share your experience and goals with your network regularly!
  3. Keep your online presence up to date and monitor your network for opportunities

Whatever your goal, it’s clear that networking can help you get there. By taking the simple methods and takeaways Kelly Hoey outlines in “Build Your Dream Network” and connecting them with your goals and ambitions, you can begin to make your dreams a reality.

About UpHabit

UpHabit is an easy-to-use app that takes the heavy lifting out of reaching out, following up, and building an effective professional network. Build a stronger network with UpHabit, an app for Thoughtful Super Connectors! Download now on iOS, Android, and MacOS. Available as a web app too.

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