The Million Dollars Rolodex…
Everyone Has One
By Phil Wilkins
you have every resource you will ever need at your disposal. That’s
right. Whether you’re seeking advice, venture capital, or a business
lead, you have the means to get what you want. And the best part is,
it’s all sitting right on your desk. How is this possible, you may
ask. Through the amazing power of your rolodex! In fact, you could
even say that you have a million dollars in your rolodex just waiting
for you to discover it.
your rolodex correctly and networking effectively, you can essentially
get anything you want or need. Unfortunately, many people are shy when
it comes to networking for what they want. Sometimes they’re
embarrassed of their “lofty” goals; other times they mistakenly
believe that no one would bother to truly help.
reality, people, especially successful people, are typically willing
to help those who are willing to help themselves. So if you’re stuck
and looking for that opportunity you need to reach the next level,
networking is a great way to help you get there. Remember that
there’s nothing wrong with bouncing ideas off of others and
brainstorming about opportunities and possibilities. If you know
someone who is doing what you want to be doing or who has expertise in
an area you require assistance in, then start networking with that
person right away. Here’s how:
Have a vision or goal for what you want: Before you start
networking, you must be clear about what you want to accomplish. If
you want to own a franchise, for example, don’t simply state that
you want to get involved with a franchise business. Be specific, as
in, “I want to own a McDonald’s franchise in Chicago.” Actually
see the location in your mind. The more clearly you can envision and
articulate your goal, the easier it will be for others to help you.
Decide who can help you reach that goal: With your goal firmly in
mind, you can now decide who may be able to help you reach that goal.
Who are the connectors or influencers within that industry, specialty,
or topic that you have in your rolodex? Who can help you get from
Point A to Point B? Realize that you’re not cold calling everyone
you know at random, hoping to find that “lucky break.” Rather,
you’re deciding who is relevant to the goal you now have. Going back
to our franchise example, who do you know in the franchising arena, or
who would have resources, connections, or pull in that industry?
Meet with your key contacts: Now that you’ve identified specific
people who can help, call or e-mail the person. A good approach is to
say, “I have an idea I’d like to discuss with you. Can I take you
to lunch [or breakfast] so we can talk about it?” Buying a lunch or
breakfast is a small investment for getting the connections or
information you need. Once you’re actually meeting with the person,
be direct about what you’re looking for. For example, you might say,
“I’d like to own a McDonald’s franchise in Chicago. Do you know
anyone who does that or who works in the franchising arena?” Even if
the person doesn’t know someone who could directly help you, he or
she may be able to refer you to another connector who does have the
contacts you need. Call or e-mail every lead you receive. Even a
referral from a referral of a referral can take you where you want to
Send a note of thanks: Always send a thank you note for the
meeting. Most people are busy, so if someone takes time out of their
day to talk with you about your ideas or goals, you must thank them
for their time and for any referrals or leads you received. This is
the crucial step that even the savviest networkers miss. When you
don’t thank people for their time or information, you lessen the
chance that they’ll want to help you again in the future.
Be a connector for others: The more you connect others, the more
they’ll connect you. So rather than just tell people what you want,
find out what they want. Then, be on the lookout for things, people,
or events that can help them. For example, if you find out that
someone you’re meeting with is looking for some real estate
investment property, and you happen to come across a potential piece
of property, don’t dismiss the information simply because you’re
not interested in investment property. Make note of the opportunity
and share it with those who are interested. Your sincere desire to
help others will go a long way during future networking meetings.
Treat the information you receive with respect: Whenever you
receive a lead or contact in a particular industry or company, treat
that information as private property. That is, don’t give out the
contact’s personal information unless you have permission to do so
or you have developed a good relationship with the contact and now
consider him or her one of your friends or close colleagues. So if
you’re meeting with someone a few months later who is looking for
similar information that you were seeking previously, don’t simply
hand out the referral someone else gave you as if it were one of your
personal contacts. Call the person who originally gave you that
contact or lead and ask if you can share that information with others.
Unless you specifically know that it’s okay to share that
contact’s information with others, always go back to the original
referring party and ask for permission to share the lead.
If it’s taking you longer than you’d like to
reach your goals alone, put your rolodex to work and start networking.
Remember, networking isn’t about uncomfortable introductions at a
business event. It’s about harnessing the power of your existing
contacts so you can reach your objectives sooner. So start thinking
about those people in your rolodex who can point you in the right
direction. You never know…that next phone call you make to one of
your contacts may be the one that makes your million-dollar idea a
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about Phil Wilkins.
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