While spending the week in the city of brotherly love, I had the grand opportunity to meet with Katherina Rosqueta, Executive Director of the Center for High Impact Philanthropy (CHIP) in the School of Social Policy and Practice at the University of Pennsylvania, and Eric Rassman, Deputy Director of Ikatu International, a social enterprise startup that seeks to create employment opportunities for youth worldwide to enable self-sufficiency. I now count these two brilliant and engaging social innovators as members of my â€œvalued contactsâ€ or people that I have engaged in significant conversation and that are accessible by phone call, tweet, email, or text message when needed.
What is most notable about this is that until this trip I had not met either of them face-to-face. Rather, I had only spoken with Katherina once by phone and Eric once or twice by email. An additional commonality in both cases is that Twitter was the catalyst for the development of the relationship but Twitter was not how we met. Kristen Parrinello (@invisiblework) referred me to Eric on the Friday before leaving for my trip â€“ she was the node of contact and Eric was in her sphere of influence. I learned of CHIP and Katherinaâ€™s work through tweets by Autumn Walden (@ImpactSP2Walden), she was the node of contact and Katherina was in her sphere of influence. Autumn is also apart of the CHIP team. Once again (as has been the case several times since January) the nodal approach to expanding my network delivered powerful, engaging, and inspiring conversations with people that are committed to improving our world community; innovators that will no doubt continue to factor into my own journey.
This approach has evolved into a five step process that has netted over 25 new valued contacts, all of whom I feel comfortable issuing a call to advice, expertise, or action when needed. These steps are:
Feed the type of valuable content you want to receive to the Twittersphere on a regular basis and it will lead to a higher density of quality followers (that you will want to follow back).
Filter your follower stream further by designating a stream for only those followers that have the highest quality and quantity tweets focused on your areas of interest. This Very Important Tweep (VIT) stream should be viewed on a daily basis as time permits. To manage this I use Peoplebrowsr.com but platforms like HootSuite or TweetDeck are also able to do this.
Periodically, pick members of the VIT stream to schedule an offline conversation if/when you both see mutual value in doing so. There are two goals for these conversations, which happen at whatever frequency you are able to handle. The first goal is to leave the call with a new â€œvalued contact.â€ The second goal is to leave the call with one or more contacts that they will introduce to you virtually from their sphere of influence.
Make contact with the referred contact by Twitter, phone, or if you plan to be in their vicinity in the coming months set up a time to meet them face-to-face (just as I did in Philadelphia).
Do the same thing for others. Be a connector by deliberately connecting your contacts with other people that can advance their work.
Is this rocket science? No. However, making this process a regular practice will not only expand your network and increase awareness of your personal brand, it will connect you with the innovators, thinkers, connectors, experts, and encouragers that you will need on your journey to improving our world community.