How to Create and Maintain a Power Network in Just Minutes Per Day
"Your power network is comprised of all the people you know who can make a positive difference in your future," said Michael Masterson in The Reluctant Entrepreneur. "They include your mentors, consultants, competitors, vendors, colleagues, and people in high places who have resources and connections you lack."
I've noticed a lot of beginning freelancers feel intimidated when reaching out to potential mentors. They often feel like they'll be ignored or that they'll be bothersome. I've found this isn't the case if you're willing to put in the work to build a relationship with possible mentors over time.
So while you can't expect them to help every complete stranger who emails them, you can quickly grow a power network by consistently following a few simple steps:
1. Choose your power network.
Pick a small group (under 20 people) to start with. You can choose people you already know of that you'd like to meet with. Or you can do some research to find people in your industry that it would benefit you to network with. Ideally, you should have a mixture of people who are where you are and people who are where you want to be.
Start researching your list and use some type of tool to keep track of their blogs, websites, Twitter names, Google+ names, Facebook links, etc. You could create a spreadsheet, use the list function on the different social networks, or use your browser bookmarks to create a folder for each person in your power network.
3. Start interacting with them.
Each day, log in to your social networks to see if anyone in your power network has updated their status. With many social networks, you can create a list for your power network. This makes it easy to log in and quickly see what's going on.
Share or retweet their most valuable posts, answer their questions, and compliment them on the work they're doing. If they have new blog posts, be sure to visit their site and leave a comment. The important thing to remember is that the members in your power network are real people, and they love hearing from other real people. Be yourself when you reach out to them.
Depending on the size of your list, you might not be able to do this for everyone every day. My strategy is to rotate through my list as evenly as possible.
4. Add value to their site.
The key to growing a strong power network is to give a lot before you start asking for things. Treat your power network like a good friend.
Link to them whenever possible, buy their products if you can, share their posts, promote them to your followers, and write reviews about them. This shows you are reading their stuff, liking it, and taking time out of your busy schedule to help them.
This might sound like a lot of work just to connect with someone, but keep in mind as you're doing this, you're also building authority with their readers. You're becoming known in the niche and getting exposure that you probably couldn't otherwise get.
5. Send them a birthday card.
Many social networks publish birthdays. Make a point to look up your power network's birthdays so you can be prepared ahead of time. Once a month, sign and address all the cards for the month.
Very few people still send cards, so this extra thought will go a long way. Plus, it won't take much time and will strengthen your relationships.
6. Write one personal note or email every day.
Commenting on someone's blog and retweeting their tweets will get you noticed over time, but a personal email or note is more likely to get a response. Once you have a conversation going, it's easier to build a relationship.
Masterson says he does this, and you can easily keep in touch with more than 300 people per year if you do this, too. I imagine you would not be able to fail at anything with that many people in your power network.
7. Help them with their goals.
If you see that one of the members of your power network is having a hard time achieving one of their goals or is frustrated about something, try to help them out.
For example, if they're trying to come up with a good title for their new book, offer to help. If they’re going on vacation and trying to find flip-flops in winter, send them a link. If they're trying to find a good web designer, connect them with a friend.
The point here is to make a deposit in the "favor bank." Next time you ask them for a favor, they're likely to respond positively.
8. Use their advice – and tell them about your results.
One of the best ways to get big names talking about you is to prove their advice works.
Let's say you read a blog post about how to get more website visitors. You put the advice into action and within a month, you doubled your visitors.
Take just a few minutes to sit down and email the person who gave you the advice about your results. They're likely to be very happy. They'll probably even mention you on their website because you're proof that their system works.
This not only gets the big name noticing and talking about you, but it also gets their readers to notice and talk about you too.
9. Watch for opportunities to interview them.
Anytime someone in your power network is trying to spread the word about a new venture, they're likely to accept an interview. They do this to reach larger groups of people for more sales and exposure.
Watch for the members of your power network to release a book or product or give a speech. Then ask if you can interview them for your site. Be sure to ask a few questions about their new venture so they have a chance to promote it. Once you publish the interview, give them the link to share with their audience.
If you can't get an interview with them, try writing a review. If your review gets enough exposure, you'll probably get an interview next time around.
When dealing with your power network, remember they are real people. Your goal is to help them, not annoy them. Help them (using the tips above) before you ask for favors, and don’t ask them questions you could easily find the answers to.
You're trying to build real relationships, so treat them the way you want to be treated, and be patient. Real relationships take time. You can't expect successful or famous people to start promoting you overnight, but with the tips above, you can get them to notice and start interacting with you.
What about you? Do you have a power network? If so, who's in it? If not, whom would you like to be in your power network?
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