Do you watch Celebrity Apprentice? Well, if you missed the first week, you missed a great lesson in networking from rock star Gene Simmons. The celebrities were divided into two teams — men and women — and tasked with selling hot dogs on the street in New York to raise money for the charity of their choice.
Check out how Gene Simmons tackled the challenge (starts at about 0:40):
This brings to light a very important networking concept: the action threshold. The action threshold is simply this: how well does someone have to know you in order to take action on the request you’re making of them, or in order to proactively take action on your behalf when they see an opportunity?
You probably know at least one or two people, maybe more, who are capable of making a $10,000 donation to charity. Would they do it for you?
That may seem like an extreme example, but let’s bring it a little closer to home. How many people in your network would, say, promote your new book and help bump it to the best-seller list, with no direct benefit to them? That’s how Bob Burg and John David Mann got their latest book, The Go-Giver, to the top of the business bestseller list on Amazon. Sure, they have a mailing list of several thousand people, but the real power was in the several dozen people who went and promoted it to their lists, blogs and forums.
See, Bob and John build strong relationships, and that takes time and effort. Bob and John came through like a champ for me a few months ago, cranking out the introduction to Jason Alba’s I’m on LinkedIn — Now What?? on very short notice. They put hours into it, not seconds. And in the process they not only strengthened their relationship with me, but also forged new, instantly strong relationships with Jason and Mitchell Levy, the publisher.
So now, even though I’m up to my ears in client work, a new book and other commitments, there wasn’t even any question in my mind about promoting Bob’s book when it came out.
For our new book, The Emergence of The Relationship Economy, the legendary Doc Searls provided the foreword, even though we had just met him. I’m still a little bit amazed how quickly we were able to “go deep” with him, but we were, and it paid off. But I know that a big part of it is because Carter, Jay and I are willing to invest time in building relationships with the right people, rather than just building a big list.
“Light links”, i.e., people you’re connected to on LinkedIn but don’t really know, aren’t usually going to take action on your behalf. Heck, in many cases they won’t even respond to an email! I’ve lost track of the number of people on MyLinkedInPowerForum who have told stories of writing back to open networkers who have invited them, trying to start a conversation, and never receiving any reply. That’s not networking. Worse — it’s a complete, utter waste of time.
Who in your LinkedIn network would buy a $10,000 hot dog from you for charity? Write your book foreword in a weekend? Introduce you to their CEO personally? Pick you up at the airport personally? Let you stay at their house?
If the answer is “no one”, it’s time to change your networking strategy.