Cringe-free networking (using a Personal CRM)

We have an Amazon Prime problem.

We’re averaging 2 packages a day, adorned with the the awkward smiley-face-meets-arrow logo.

(I blame Halloween, a YMCA camping trip and our unhealthy obsession with health products.)

But yesterday something jumped out.

It was a small white cardboard box.

Initially, I found this box “suss” but decided to open it.

It contained a Hot Wheel car.

It was a delightful surprise. I read the accompanying letter which turned out to be far less interesting than the car.

“Imagine skipping employees, gatekeepers, inboxes and Messenger queues, and putting your message directly in front of your customers.”

Damn marketers.

I gave the Hot Wheel to my 5 year old, but couldn’t stop thinking to myself, “Wow, what a great way to get someone to pay attention.”

After all, in addition to the Amazon packages I get 92 emails, 4 physical envelopes and 2 paper catalogs a day.

You could say, there’s a lot of “noise” in our lives.

Which got me thinking, how can we develop relationships (I hate the word networking) inspired by service, delight and genuine care?

Here are 5 ways to network, without being transactional, fake or cringe.

1. Use the “ask me thrice” rule

Now I know that you get asked the same question often.

You may be a portfolio manager, who gets asked:

“What are you favorite books on investing?”

Or maybe you’re a foodie, who gets asked:

“Can you tell me your top restaurants in London?”

Or you’re a productivity junkie, who gets asked:

“Tell me about your productivity toolkit?”

Here’s a wonderful opening to serve others while creating personal leverage.

Think about all the questions you get asked more than three times.

Write your answer in a Google Doc (or Notion page) so that you can share your wisdom.

Make it easy. Share it wide. And you’ll see the spark of delight in your friends’ eyes.

2. Strengthen your weak ties with curiosity

If you’re looking for a new job, you may be tempted to turn to the obvious sources.

Your BFFs from college. Or maybe your former co-workers.

But these close relationships — known as strong ties — are not the best pathway to a new job.

Surprisingly, the best way to land a new job is through a someone in your running club, a random Twitter DM or the dad you just met on the soccer field. These connections are known as weak ties.

Now when you meet someone, jot down a few simple notes.

Where they grew up.

Their kids’ names.

What lights them up.

How you first met them.

The LifeOS includes a Personal CRM

Keep it super simple.

Now a word of warning, most people read this advice and go overboard. They become full on creepers and take notes on the person’s food allergies, the year/make of their car and the name of their kids’ favorite stuffed animal.

Don’t be that person.

This is an invitation to be genuinely curious. Not a private investigator.

3. Understand people’s superpowers

What lights you up?

It’s an important, yet overlooked question when you meet new people.

It’s tempting to go full-on LinkedIn mode.

That’s when you try to understand their industry, skills, career trajectory and credentials.

But then you’re just recreating LinkedIn.

Instead, consider finding out what makes a person come alive.

Are they passionate about eradicating climate change?

During their free time, do they nerd out on Hegel, Jung and Aristotle?

Are they wearing a different pair of fresh Nikes every time you see them?

These hobbies and superpowers tell you way more about a person than their LinkedIn profile.

And with a few simple tags, you’ll really begin to understand your “network” at a deeply human level.

4. Create luck using MBIs

I’m always on the look-out for a win-win-win.

A way to help others AND create new friendships. All while increasing the surface area of your own luck.

And that’s how I came up with the Mutually Beneficial Introduction — better known as the MBI.

The MBI is simple. You introduce two people who you think would mutually benefit from knowing one another.

Now, here’s where the passions and superpowers come into play.

Sure, two lawyers may want to meet up and discuss lawyering.

And I’ve been to far too many parties where a bunch of investors start trading stock picks.


But imagine if you could connect two people outside of their LinkedIn bios.

Watch what happens when two wanderlusts (aka people who love to travel) start comparing notes on their favorite Ramen joints.

Or when two surfers start re-living the “best waves of their lives” with a level of detail that’s usually reserved for a professional novelist.

Here’s where your notes — specifically the superpowers and hobbies tags — can surface up non-obvious connection points.

But one other warning. Always, always always use a double opt-in.

In order to avoid any awkwardness and scheduling constraints, you must get the blessing of both parties. This ensures that they are both willing (and able) to meet.

5. Send handwritten notes (and birthday videos)

Let’s return to the Hot Wheels example.

While the offer (”paid marketing services!”) wasn’t compelling, the uniqueness of the medium caught my attention.

And the thoughtfulness of the little toy car brought me a splash of nostalgic delight.

Now there’s a simple way to tie this all 5 steps together.

It just requires a stamp and an envelope.

Yes, it’s super OG and Old School.

But when was the last time you received a hand written letter from someone you cared about?

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

And if you’re too lazy to get the required stamps and envelopes, another option for re-kindling weak ties is to send a personal happy birthday video. Not a lame-duck Facebook comment. But a heartfelt video telling the birthday boy/girl how much you appreciate them.

Here’s a random example I just picked out (there are probably 200 of these on my camera roll).

All it takes is a dropping your friends’ birthdays into your favorite to-do list app.

Never miss a birthday with the LifeOS

As you read these 5 tips, I want to emphasize one key behavior. Without this key behavior, everything falls apart.

All these actions, notes and gestures must arise from a place of love, care and curiosity.

If not, you’re just yet another scammy transactional networker trying to maximize your own interests.

But if you just lead with your human-ness, watch the magic that ensues.

The Personal CRM is just one of the modules from our Life Operating system. The LifeOS combines tasks, notes, and project management in one integrated platform and also includes 27 short modules covering our core productivity frameworks. Purchase the LifeOS today.

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