Why the Real World Still Matters
Most successful businesspeople have discovered that there are many advantages to creating a strong network of colleagues and business partners who can help them advance their work and careers. While spending time online in social media networks can help you get or stay in touch with hundreds of wonderful people, there are many other effective ways to build better partnerships.
Right Person, Right Approach
Helping people create strong career connections is what Gordon Curtis has done for years as an executive transition coach, business agent and the director of career services and alumni relations at Boston College Graduate School of Management. Curtis writes that, while using social software is one way to create relationships with colleagues, vendors and other partners, those platforms are only a small part of a relationship-building toolkit. Throughout Well Connected, Curtis boils down his strategy for developing critical connections into a plan he calls the "Right Person-Right Approach" method.
The Right Person-Right Approach method is built on a foundation of important tactics for making meaningful connections through more substantial social and professional interactions.
Why is online social networking insufficient? Curtis acknowledges that it can be a very valuable tool, but he writes that real relationships take more one-on-one time. Relying on Twitter and Facebook to improve your business results or your career leaves too much to chance, he adds. It also brings on some risks. Curtis writes, "Incautious broadcast networking can contaminate your network, as you will shoot yourself in the foot if you are unclear about what you want and why you are worthy of help, or you approach people in a one-way exchange, or both." Curtis has spent enough time trying to help people find jobs and opportunities to know that one good personal interaction with a lone individual is more powerful than a general scattershot of nonspecific messages.
Curtis explains that his approach to social connectedness starts with identifying what he calls "your critical enabler." Well Connected is filled with sticky terms like this for some of the most important elements to keep in mind when creating critical social connections. Another one of his terms is the "master key." The master key is the important individual who gets you into the mind of that crucial person — the critical enabler — who can grant you access to the people and things you need in order to reach your goals, Curtis writes.
Your Critical Enabler
To help you find your critical enabler, Curtis recommends some in-depth research on what that person needs to see to believe that your work has value. Researching the best people in your industry can also help you find this person, according to Curtis. Once you have a field of great people from which to choose, Curtis writes, get to know these people so you can find the person who could be the most beneficial to your cause.
If your master key's referral was effective, then you are face to face with the enabler of your dreams. Now what? First, you will need to take the right approach to reach him or her. Providing value, Curtis points out, is at the core of the best networking strategies. One way to get this connection started is to move on to "the gesture of progressive reciprocity," he writes. Giving advice, favors and information, as long as they are not too extravagant, can go a long way toward building a connection between people who want to get off on the right foot. Show off your expertise and your other connections, Curtis adds. These are great ways to demonstrate to your enabler the types of value you can provide.
Well Connected is filled with tiny vignettes from the world of work that describe how dozens of individuals in different industries have adapted Curtis' approach to their own specific needs. Each chapter is filled with stories that depict how real people have used Curtis' framework for attaining business objectives.
By showing how people at all levels set clearer goals, gain more control over their networks and develop more confidence in themselves and what they are trying to achieve, Curtis’ book helps them chart a straighter path to their career and business objectives.