I was first exposed to the “Connect-the-Dots” exercise at a non-profit organization to which I am a board member. One of the keys to non-profit success is to have a healthy base of individual donors. We were looking at lists of donors who had contributed to other non-profits with similar or related missions as ours. Working in teams, each of us went through these lists and identified the people that we knew. We then assigned the relationships either one dot, two dots or three dots, depending on how well we knew them.
Assessing the depth of your networking relationships
Every relationship you have in business and in life are at different stages of development. Some people you might have only met once (and can’t remember much about them), others you know very well and see them often.
Frequency of interaction is a great way to progress your relationship to the next level (or next dot in this example).
● One dot indicates that you share/attend the same hairdressers; workout gym; social clubs, place of worship or see them at community events.
●● Two dots mean that you regularly see them at social events, would have lunch once a year or have mutual friends.
●●● Three dots show that you might invite the individual to your home for tea/cocktails/ dinner; play golf or tennis; they would come to family celebrations
In networking, you have to balance the need for many contacts (quantity) as well the need for close contacts (quality). Your close contacts are the ones that you can more easily call upon to introduce you to other people or to advocate for you when you really need it.
I think the Connect-the-Dots exercise is interesting on these two dimensions: how many people do you know and how much do you really know about them.
Your Networking Goal for the Week
Download a list of people who belong to your local chamber of commerce or other key business association in your field/community. Scroll through their member directory (either on-line or hard copy directory) and note down the people whose names you recognize. Assign them either one dot, two dots or three dots, depending upon how well you know them. (download the Connect-the-Dot exercise sheets).
Think about ways in which you could move the one-dot people to the two-dot category and the two-dot people to the three-dot group. Now review the people whose names you recognize but don’t really have any kind of relationship with. Think about a strategy of how you could meet them, get connected and start to help each other. Who on your dot list could you call upon to introduce you?
The goal of this exercise is to have lots and lots of dots. That means that you have many mutually-beneficial relationships in your professional and personal networks available to help you grow and go.