“Your network is your net worth.”
“Your network is your net worth” – We’ve had that hammered into us from day one in our entrepreneurship journey.
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”
– Steve Jobs
I’m not one to remember quotes, but that one has always stuck with me (discovered via my friend Jayson). Far too many people think about the immediate benefits of networking; I’m far more interested in knowing awesome people and seeing what happens years down the road.
Your network gives and gives
I’ve had opportunities come to me via my network in ways I could have never imagined. From rally racing to being able to buy a Banksy to getting my pilot’s license to staying with local friends pretty much wherever I travel (the last four: Sweden + Kosovo + Japan + Egypt), my network has been an incredible boon for me in my personal life.
If anything, I structure my businesses to run independently of everyone else (think Switzerland) and then let my network permeate into my personal life.
Plus, it’s in those times when you’re chilling with other boss-level humans that you learn some of the insider stuff that successful people are executing on (eg. my shout out to my buddy Ronnie, who is always up to new and exciting things).
You gotta nurture your network
What’s the point of social media?
I’ve always been thoughtful about my usage of social media (more on that for another day) – with Facebook being primarily a place for thought-dumps, and Twitter a place to share awesome links and connect with humans.
They both allow me to selectively choose how I interact and whom I interact with.
But LinkedIn – what’s the point?
How do I scale up my conversations there, especially when it’s not a “let’s visit and what see others are up to” kind of social network?
A big reason of who I am is that I love to develop deep interpersonal ties. The weak ties may help us function, but depth is what lets me shine. One of my (weird) points of personal pride is I connect with people on random esoteric subjects, not on business.
So I had two options – either just start ignoring LinkedIn, or find a way to make it work for me.
I needed to find a way to make those ties deep.
I love deep connections, and Facebook and Twitter help me achieve that. How could I make LinkedIn work for me?
The solution: “The best email I ever sent”
By happenstance, I stumbled upon a post by my friend Jun and how he had found a way to make LinkedIn work for him:
- Export your contacts
- Create a mailing list
- Send a personal update.
Easy enough. Provided you aren’t randomly adding people on LinkedIn, these are connections who know who you are, and are interested in what you have to say.
But how could I make the connection better? How could I make it better than just being subscribed to an email list? (which has its own host of email deliverability headaches).
The next level via GMass
Last year I was at a dinner for some kick ass SEO types, featuring successful dudes like Neil Patel, Dev Basu, Tony Tie, and Hayden Miyamoto. Chatting with them, I learned of GMass.
What’s GMass? It’s a chrome extension that hooks into your Gmail, and then lets you send emails through Gmail.
And here was my solution. Instead of creating this clunky email list (and all of its associated issues), I could just directly contact my connections!
How I did it:
It’s so easy I don’t even need to provide screenshots…
Making LinkedIn work for you: contact your connections with a personal update a few times a year.
The KEY: Making sure it really IS personal
As Jun says, sending a personalized email is by far the most important part. My thought process was – “If I knew Sol and was interested in what he had to say, what would I want to hear about?”
So I took an informal tone, and I firstly gave them a heads up on what this email was:
So – this is a first. Inspired by my buddy Jun and his “best email I ever wrote,” I thought I’d send out this email to let you know I’ve been cracking at.
I then gave them an update on Examine.com (as that is how most people know me)
Examine.com is now purring like never before. It’s consistently gauging at over 70,000 visitors/day, and we’re excited about cracking 100,000 before the year is over!
I gave them a quick summary of last year and what my goal is for this year
I myself have been busy up to my normal shenanigans. I wrote an SJO 2016 Annual Letter, in which I talk about how I’m barely doing any more speaking (26 times last year), and now focusing more on writing.
And of course I hit them up on the chocolate chip cookie zaniness:
Other than that, most of my past few months were absorbed getting the Chocolate Chip Cookie Off 2017 going. We had 34 competitors (27 professionals!) and it was quite the gingangooly (best of all, we raised $2500 for United Way).
If you’re curious, I even wrote about How I got 27 professional chefs & bakers to make cookies.
And finally, about how we can hang out, and what they’re upto?
I’m parking my behind in Toronto until April/May, so if you’re around, let me know, and we’ll go grab cookies at the place that came #1. Trust me when I say this… think of how Keanu Reeves went “woah” in The Matrix… that’ll be your reaction too.
Let me know what you’re upto.
And a PS at how often I’ll be saying hi (to set expectations – thank you page)
PS. My goal is to send one of these emails just 4x a year. If you don’t want to get another email, just let me know.
The goal of the email was to emulate having a casual convo
The results are in: mission accomplished
I sent out the email to roughly 1500 people. I had approximately 150 people respond. A 10% response rate!
Those responses lead to some fascinating conversations helped further my entire goal: deeper bonds.
Quite a few people even responded saying they loved how personal the email was.
I only had two people ask me not to email them anymore; one of them being a close friend (“I know all of this as it happens!”)
At the end of this month, I’ll be sending out another update. I’ll be talking about my upcoming trips to Japan, SF, and Calgary (who wants to hang out??), why I’ll be retiring the #cookielife, that our next charity food-off will be in late June, and whatever-else interesting happens this month.
And I’m really excited to hear back on what everyone else is up to.
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