Career Success Tool: Intentionality & Effective Networking

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TL;DR: Intention: goal <–> expectation <–> effort/action item

Students often ask, “how do I network?” One networks by first assessing the intention (goal + expectation) behind the effort/action step and then implementing that action step.

Intentional relationship and professional network development:

  1. Goal: to grow from the network’s expertise.
  2. Realistic expectation: it will take time & effort.
  3. Effort/action item: regular, meaningful communication and proof of value-add (via e-mail, phone, post-sharing and commenting etc.)
  4. New goal: get recommended for a position once trust has been established and competence has been assessed by the network person.
  5. Realistic expectation: it will still take time and effort.
  6. Effort/action plan: …

Read a blog post by Keana Kanae about the difference between relationships with intentionality vs. relationships by proximity (original post below; slightly edited). In our adult years, we do use intentionality to continue building relationships after they might start by proximity (a deep friendship with a neighbor, or with a daughter’s friend’s parent, for example). Keana’s post, however, made me reflect on starting a relationship with intentionality and making space in our lives for people who help us stretch and grow (professionally, spiritually, even romantically) as opposed to a relationship that happens because of proximity first. This, in turn, led me to the realization that relationship by intentionality is an interesting way to think about professional relationships like “network” and “mentor.”

Students often ask, “how do I network?” One networks by first assessing the intention (goal + expectation) behind the effort/action step and then implementing that action step.

If I know why I am networking and what I want to get out of it, I will know how to do it because I know my goals and expectations. If I know my goals and expectations and they are reasonable, I will know how to proceed effectively (or research and find out) and have a shot at success.

E.g.: if the goal is to connect with someone to learn from their expertise so I can stretch and grow in my own competencies, it is a reasonable expectation that it will take time and genuine effort to build a relationship of trust by establishing my street creds and showing them that it is worth their time to invest in me. To fulfill this expectation, I have to be willing to put in the hard work of listening and learning as an active participant in the relationship, potentially for a long while, before I can think of any kind of ROI (return on investment, i.e. what will I get out of this?). There are no shortcuts to an intentional relationship that actually works.

If the goal is to get a recommendation for a job, the (rather unreasonable, yet surprisingly common) expectation that a person will help me simply because I have reached out to them will lead to a less-than-effective effort/action item: a random message via LinkedIn or e-mail, followed by a quick giving up when there is no response. Someone with whom I have not built an intentional relationship will have neither an indepth knowledge of my skills and values nor a relationship of trust. Without those (well, really, without the second one first), they will not implement the action step of recommending me for a position.  To ask for something, one has to give something first. To ask for something worthwhile, one has to give something worthwhile first.

Career (and life) success is a long game. Shortcuts ain’t free. We have to gain expertise through experience with the longcuts to learn and know where the shortcuts are.

Original post by Keala Kanae, Founder & CEO | Fullstaq Marketer


You’ve probably heard the saying that you’re basically the sum of the 5 people you hang around most, right? It’s pretty common business and personal development rhetoric and it basically means that we will become the people we spend the most time with. And it’s TRUE.

Back when I hung out with a bunch of folks who loved to party and get into trouble, guess what I did? (SIDENOTE: Some of them are still doing that stuff today, too). And when I started hanging around business minded, motivated people, I’m sure you can tell what happened then.

See, the challenge is that most of us have picked our relationships based on proximity rather than purpose.

In other words, these are the people we grew up with, lived in our neighborhood, went to high school or college with, etc. And many times, these relationships aren’t even intentional, right? I mean, you lean over to borrow a pencil in math class and next thing you know your best buds, having sleepovers and talking about your first kiss.

Completely unintentional.

However, how different do you think your life would be if you intentionally selected your relationships based on your dreams, goals, and ambitions instead?

What if rather than gossiping – about people at work, who slept with who, who’s knocked up, and how unfair life is…you hung around people who were busy talking about the projects they’re working on, the wins they’ve had, and their excitement for the future?

I can tell you from personal experience that this one thing probably changed my life faster than any other single thing I did.

And it doesn’t have to be “hard” or “uncomfortable” either.

Anyone who really knows me knows that I’m mostly an introvert. I don’t like introducing myself to people or striking up conversations with strangers. I seriously suck at that stuff. However, what I’ve found that works is putting myself in environments where these relationships build naturally.

In other words, I used to add myself to Facebook groups where people talked about online marketing and I would comment on things and ask questions. Sure enough, the friend requests would start rolling in and people would be messaging me.

I didn’t have to break the ice even one time, yet I had empowering relationships that moved me forward. Today I pay thousands – even tens of thousands – to attend events that will have attendees who are more successful than I am and have been where I want to go. In other words, since we know that relationships often happen purely by proximity…I have found ways to put myself in the proximity of people who have what I want so that I can attract relationships that help me move forward.

And because of that, my goals, dreams, and ambitions aren’t beat up and torn apart by skeptical friends and family members…but are loved, appreciated, and supported by others who dare to dream, too.

CHOOSE your relationships, my friend. And be okay with letting go of ones that don’t serve you.

Live your life out loud.


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