“It’s who you know, not what, that’s responsible for the big things in your professional life”
In the past couple of years of connecting and networking I’ve begun to find my niche; which much to my surprise is connecting and networking! But between in all the coffees and conferences, the keynotes and the lunch-and-learns, and the seminars and meet ups something has become hugely obvious to me, and it’s this:
One of the best things we can do for our friends and colleagues is to introduce them to our other like-minded friends and colleagues in the hopes that some personal and professional sparks fly! I lovingly call this idea the “I Know a Guy” strategy after the phrase that – being unable to contain my enthusiasm – I routinely scream out after realizing I have a friend who can bring value to another friend’s project.
And yes, embarrassingly the screaming part is true, and usually goes down like something like this…
In that exact moment of enlightenment when the moons line up and I suddenly realize I know somebody who can help with, advise on or participate in another friend’s project, emotion overtakes me and I tend to bellow out “I know a guy!” in the highest-pitched schoolgirl shriek humanly possible. And yes, sadly I DO shriek like a schoolgirl, each and every single time this happens.
Besides totally embarrassing myself with this behaviour, I remain a steadfast and staunch advocate of the IKAG strategy, and here’s why: I feel that connecting friends and colleagues who we know will benefit either personally or professionally from being is one of the best things we can do for them, and us.
IKAG connects us, supports us and builds community; heck, I’ll go as far as to say I know how awesome it is since I’ve met some of my closest friends via IKAG; then I’d go even farther and say that if you aren’t currently using the IKAG strategy – being introducing your like-minded friends to each other – then you are missing huge opportunities to grow your community of friends and business colleagues… and why would anyone want to do that?
Here’s an example of how IKAG has set in motion a whole chain of events that have given me mega-opportunities to grow my career, and to contribute my time and effort to some incredible projects – not to mention meet some amazing people along the way! Here’s what happened:
- I was explaining to a friend that I wanted to speak at an upcoming conference when he said IKAG and he’d introduce me… Sweet! The meeting was arranged.
- The guy happened to be the producer of two large events, and asked if I had time to volunteer at a trade show for him. I said yes, and we soon became friends.
- Not long after I helped him out I mentioned I wanted to speak at his biggest event, and gave him a sample of my work. He agreed, liked my demo and I became one of thirty six individuals speaking at the event
- The participant feedback came back and I was rated the 3rd best speaker behind two of the keynotes. This was HUGE for me!
- My new friend the producer immediately booked me into both his next events and said me “IKAG you need to meet!” several times. And with that, my professional contacts expanded with ten high quality contacts that day!
- In return I told him IKAG (G for girl this time) and recommended a top speaker friend of mine, and connected them by email. They spoke, she’s booked to speak, and will be on stage with me at one, and perhaps both of the events. Yay!
In a nutshell, this story illustrates both the power and flow of how the IKAG strategy works. For me, IKAG is a beautiful thing! It’s when we deliberately bring reciprocity and recommendation together to work hand in hand in order to support, connect and contribute to our friends, colleagues and communities. And if you want to build a strong network, it’s critical to put IKAG to work for you!
Asking how we can help people is a natural part of success and leadership; the IKAG strategy simply turns it into a more precise, targeted effort to get results much quicker, and benefit more people. Here are five easy steps to do this:
- Identify two parties you are able to connect who can support each other
- Let the person in the mentee role know you may be able to offer a mentor
- Quantify that the person in the mentor role is comfortable meeting the mentee
- If the answer is no, thank them; if yes, then introducing both parties in a joint email that cites the shared mutual interest, and your reason for connecting them
- Follow up with the mentor first; then with the mentee. Ask how the meeting went and offer support if needed
Ask Adam Rifkin identified, IKAG introductions rarely take more than five minutes, yet they have the power to really make a difference for those involved. But best of all, if we make the IKAG strategy a regular part of our routine, our connections don’t just grow – they compound. And once this happens, there’s no telling whom we’ll connect with!
PLAN OF ACTION
- Begin identifying opportunities to apply the five IKAG steps between colleagues
- Before connecting anyone, ensure both parties agree to the arrangement
- Don’t forget to follow up to make sure that everyone has benefitted from the arrangement and held up their end of the agreement