6 Minute Networking is a 14-lesson online course on professional and business networking in which Jordan Harbinger, the course instructor, teaches how to access your hidden network, connect with captains of industry, and confidently command any social situation.
- Keep all of your connections current and engaged
- Only introduce yourself with language that makes it easy for the receiver to understand you
- Give as much value as you can as often as possible by giving helpful introductions
About The Author: Jordan Harbinger is a Wall Street lawyer turned podcast interviewer with a knack for securing high-profile guests. His show, The Jordan Harbinger Show, was selected as part of Apple’s “Best of 2018.”
His Professional Networking Process
#1. Re-engage with your old contacts.
Jordan Harbinger calls this the “Connect Four” strategy for re-engaging with your old (perhaps forgotten) network.
- Grab your phone and scroll to the bottom of your text messages: these are the people you haven’t talked to in months or even years.
- Take five minutes and reach out to four of them by text every single morning: Do this no earlier than 10 a.m. their time.
- Add this as a 15-minute appointment to your calendar for each morning.
Avoid reaching out to the people you’re not interested in re-connecting with and might have left behind for a good reason.
Also, since your phone automatically pushes your most recent messages and conversations to the top, once you’ve reconnected with all of your oldest contacts, eventually, the people you’ve already reconnected with will have made it back down to the bottom of your message list. So, you can follow up with those people as they naturally reach the bottom of your text messages. Or, perhaps, follow up with them sooner after only a few days of having reconnected with them or reached out.
That said, if you do decide to circle back to them, do so only once. If they don’t reply, they don’t reply.
Here’s an example of how I executed this strategy myself:
The one on the left (who we’ll call “J”) I hadn’t spoken to in close to half a year. And yet, with a simple text, she responded with warmth and an update on what she’s up to.
The same goes for “N” on the right. We were coming up on close to a year since we’d spoken and I was still able to re-engage and reconnect with a single text.
This strategy is intended to develop the habit of building and maintaining relationships, whether personal or professional.
Harbinger notes here that networking is not a one-off exercise, it’s a practice. And, the Connect Four strategy is aimed at making sure you’re building (and maintaining) relationships every day.
So, make a habit of going through your oldest messages and re-engaging with those people daily.
#1.2. Re-engage with your old contacts via email.
This is the same process as before, but over email. Harbinger calls this the “Gmail Roulette” strategy for reconnecting with old (and maybe even forgotten) email contacts.
- Open your email program and, in the search box, type a letter or two to see who pops up: these are the people you haven’t talked to in months or even years.
- Reach out to these folks with a short email.
- Take five minutes and reach out to three or four of them every single morning.
- Add this as a 15-minute appointment on your calendar for each morning.
Harbinger: “It’s important to use both this Gmail Roulette and the Text Re-engagement techniques…because someone whose phone number you don’t have is on another, less intimate tier, than those who you’ve been connected with by phone or text in the past. You’ll want to re-engage people in both of those categories.”
As an example of how I executed this particular strategy, I’d lost touch with an old acting coach of mine. She was a friend who’s taught Hollywood actors like John David Washington (Denzel Washington’s son), won an acting award herself, and produced movies that have won awards as well.
So, I reached out to reconnect:
And, this is how she responded:
She was happy to invite me to drop by one of her classes for free (and, believe me, she charges a hefty dollar…and she’s worth every penny :).
I took her up on her offer and, at her class, got to make acquaintances with some other awesome actors and hug and catch up with my old friend.
Needless to say, I strongly recommend applying Harbinger’s advice to implement the Gmail Roulette and Connect Four techniques.
#1.3. Reconnect with your old, influential contacts.
A bit different from the ones above, instead of letting your phone and email programs give you a random selection of contacts to re-engage, you’re going to be a bit more intentional with your reconnecting. Harbinger calls this the “Digging the Well” strategy for reconnecting with influential contacts you might’ve lost touch with (and doing so before you need something from them).
- Imagine you lost your job or business today. Who are the 10-15 people you’d reach out to immediately to solicit their advice on what to do next?
- Create this list either physically or electronically.
- Reach out to the people on your list using the text re-engage and Gmail roulette techniques: either via text, email, or with a quick phone call, re-engage those people now while you don’t actually need anything from them.
Regular contact with your network helps get rid of that guilty feeling and hesitation we get when we need to reach out to someone and ask for a favor but haven’t spoken to them in forever.
#2. Deepen your relationships with your current contacts.
The previous steps and strategies were about taking dormant ties and re-engaging with them.
This step is about deepening your interactions with your existing contacts and strengthening those ties. This can be as simple as congratulating someone on big news such as a new job, pet or baby, a move, getting married, and so on.
Harbinger says that the problem today is most of these congratulations and interactions take the form of a quick, effortless “like” or a comment on social media, which gets lost in the noise.
So, here’s what Harbinger recommends doing to make your social media networking more meaningful.
- Check the newsfeed on your social media network of choice.
- Scroll until you find some news from a weaker tie in your network.
- Draft a quick email check-in or text, call them, or even pop by to see them in person if it’s appropriate: as opposed to leaving a “like” or comment.
Harbinger: “When it comes to engagement, social media is lower on the ‘engagement ladder’ than an email, which is lower than a text, which is lower than a phone call, which is, of course, lower than any sort of in-person meeting.”
What Harbinger calls a “level of engagement” we refer to as a “touchpoint” here at TCC. And, it’s true: the more personal and “big” you can make your touchpoint, the more impactful and effective it will be in deepening the relationship.
Small touchpoints such as a “like” don’t mean as much as bigger touchpoints like an in-person congratulations.
#3. Give value to your current contacts.
This is where you’re going to give value to the people you’ve been talking to so far. Harbinger calls this “ABG” (Always Be Giving).
- Take a look at the previous few days of communication in your text and email inboxes and note current projects and interests that have come up in conversation.
- Reach out once again and ask these contacts if they’re looking to connect with others in those areas or have any specific needs.
- Seek to give value with a double opt-in introduction.
A double opt-in introduction is where you first get the approval of both parties to introduce them to each other by sending them a message letting them know that you know someone you think they should meet. Once they both give the “OK,” you send a final third message that connects them together and introduces them to each other.
#4. Send “quick touchpoint” cold reach-outs to contacts you admire.
Reach out cold to someone you admire that you want to connect with. Only send them a short, brief message (a “quick touchpoint”) making contact.
- Find an article or book by a writer or thought leader you admire.
- Leave a comment on the article or review of the book on Amazon.
- Reach out to the author on LinkedIn, Twitter, or even Facebook to start a dialogue.
Harbinger notes that if you make a habit of reaching out to these types of influencers about their work, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the rate of response because most creators are thrilled to hear from people who enjoy what they create!
You’ll also find that some of these one-off contacts become useful connections inside your network, and that you can actually help some of these thought leaders in ways you wouldn’t have ever imagined. Some of these connections will even lead to real friendships and professional connections later down the line.
#5. Research the contacts you admire further.
This is the “Dossier Technique”:
- Use LinkedIn and other social media (including Wikipedia if they have one) to learn about some of their past experiences and personal interests.
Before going to conferences or events, you can use this information to create dossiers on the people you hope to meet, and review them on the airplane on the way. This ensures that you’ve got something interesting to talk about if your paths ever cross.
To take this technique a step further:
- Reach out and send them information on the things they find personally (not professionally) interesting.
You can use the dossier technique to establish another touchpoint with the contacts you admire over email by sending them information on things they’d be interested in.
#6. Prepare your introduction, then make it.
Whether introducing yourself or your business, oftentimes, people will aim for an elevator pitch style.
But, Harbinger believes that elevator pitches are ineffective because they’re often:
- Packed with jargon only “insiders” would know
- Specific in ways that are difficult to understand
- Awkwardly tailored (or not tailored at all)
- All about the person doing the pitch instead of the person receiving it (which is totally backward)
So, Harbinger recommends using what entrepreneur, Stephen Meade, calls The Tornado Technique.
Harbinger: “…tell people why what you’re working on might be interesting to them, in a specific and memorable way, and in layman’s terms.”
The idea is to be able to explain what you do to anyone in only a few words and in a way that they can understand and remember. And in a way that helps them refer you to other people who might be a good connection for you, both inside and outside of your industry.
#7. Translate their introduction, then use it to find ways to give value.
Sometimes it can be difficult to understand someone else’s introduction. Maybe they’re using an outdated elevator pitch style that causes their message to get lost in translation.
Harbinger recommends “decoding” their introduction using the Reverse Tornado Technique:
- Ask: “what type of industry is that?”
- Then, once you nail this down, ask questions like: “What type of people are you looking for?” and “What are the bigger companies in your industry?”
This approach helps the conversation move along and ensures each side has an understanding of what to expect from one another.
Harbinger says, “With enough practice, you’ll be finding common ground with people in professions you didn’t even know existed, and you’ll be well-suited to connect them with other people in your network (via that double opt-in introduction, of course)!”
Do your best to give value anywhere there might be a fit.
#8. Prepare to make your ask, then make it.
With all the social capital you’ve been building by strengthening and restrengthening your ties (however old they may have been) and giving value with double opt-in introductions, you can ask for value back and the receiver of your request will be more likely to see it as a fair ask.
Here’s what Harbinger recommends to prepare and field your ask.
- Think about a challenge or a need you yourself are dealing with, either personally or professionally.
- Ask someone in your network for an introduction to someone else who might be able to help.
An optional alternative is also to ask for help on behalf of someone else who’s close to you, such as a friend or family member.
- Get permission from both parties before introducing them to each other.
Harbinger says that the double opt-in introduction is crucial not only in enhancing the importance of the introduction to each party (thus making it more likely they’ll each respond promptly and connect), but it also spares the downsides of introducing people who already know one another, don’t get along for some reason, or possibly don’t even have a need to connect in the first place.
This double opt-in introduction is what Ramit Sethi calls the “Ramit 1-2 Punch” (see Instant Network). He encourages his students to send an icebreaker email to encourage commitment. And, once someone responds to the first email, they are far more likely to respond to the follow-up email (which would be the introduction email).
By asking permission first, Sethi notes that this will guarantee both parties respond affirmatively once the introduction is finally made, since each party has pre-committed and it will avoid creating awkwardness when one party is on the receiving end of an introduction that they don’t want (which can reflect on you poorly).
- Use “needs-based networking” to reach new heights faster.
Harbinger: “As we’ve seen, everyone has needs they’re trying to fulfill, big and small, regardless of their position in life.
That also means that anyone — regardless of their position in life — can help fulfill those needs.”
As an example, Harbinger talks about how you can make valuable introductions to anyone:
Harbinger: “To put it super simply, an introduction is valuable when it fulfills a need. That’s it. That’s the only metric by which you should judge your prospective introductions.
Will introducing these two people help one or both of them fulfill a need? If the answer is yes, then introduce.
But what are those needs? And how do you identify them in the first place?
Well, they can literally be anything. And they’re actually very easy to spot. A lead on a handy plumber. An answer to a business question. Troubleshooting on a piece of technology. A recommendation for a good therapist. A guest pass to the gym. An anecdote for an article. A vendor for a project. Travel tips for Spain. Friendship. Love. Support. Perspective. Connection. Opportunity. Hope. Guidance. The list of human needs is virtually infinite…
…Every single person walks around carrying one of these lists inside of them, looking for pieces of the puzzle that make up their life. These needs can be big or small, urgent or minor, complex or simple. Sometimes people will come right out and articulate them; sometimes you’ll have to ask a few questions to suss them out.
But they all share one thing in common: they need to be met. And they’re all relative to the person and situation.”
- Cut people out of your life who may be affecting you negatively (possibly even without your knowledge)
Harbinger recommends one way to do this is with what he calls a “calendar housecleaning”:
- Examine the last 6-12 months of your calendars, both work and personal: look at the appointments and social events you’ve attended.
- Ask yourself questions that reveal who may be a positive and negative influence in your life: such as, “Who have I been around the most? (With whom have I spent the most quality time?) Am I genuinely happy with the quality of the people I’ve been working and socializing with? Am I satisfied with the influence these people have had on my personal life and career?”
Harbinger uses the analogy that, while it’s rarely easy to cut people out of your personal or professional life, a little pruning is needed for the rest of the tree to thrive.
And, as someone who encourages self-care and self-love, I couldn’t agree more.
Harbinger: “Take your time on this one; be honest with yourself and do it right. If you’re having trouble with this exercise, try doing it with a significant other or someone else close to you who you know is a positive influence.”
- Makes an overgeneralization
The idea that an email is always a deeper touchpoint than a LinkedIn message isn’t always true.
There are many people who have flooded email inboxes and spend more time on LinkedIn because they enjoy that medium more for connecting with others both personally and professionally.
In those cases, it’s actually very difficult to reach them by email (and you might get their assistant instead), yet you can more easily reach them directly on LinkedIn and it’ll work as a far more effective touchpoint.
- Sometimes feels a bit out of order
For example, ideally, one would introduce themself before making their ask. Yet, the lesson on introducing oneself and their business was placed after the lesson on making your ask in the course.
Maybe these two lessons would’ve been better if they were switched the other way around. (We fixed it in the review.)
- Sometimes felt lacking in information on certain subjects
For example, Harbinger shares how to do the Tordano technique with only one line of instructions, “…tell people why what you’re working on might be interesting to them, in a specific and memorable way, and in layman’s terms.”
But, Stephen Meade, the creator of the Tornado technique, shares how to do it in six lines:
- What is the emotional value of what you do? (What are your benefits, how do you help?)
- What is the industry, genre, or type of customer?
- Names of companies you are trying to meet (be specific!)
- Ask for the person who are you trying to get to (be specific in terms of their title).
- Research and find the name of exactly who you want to meet.
- Be specific and don’t be shy.
Here’s a brief video on Stephen Meade explaining the Tornado technique and how it’s done:
While keeping the instructions to one line might help condense the course for those looking to do it in six minutes, this longer explanation is more helpful to get students the results they’re looking for.
And, for something as important as helping others understand you and what you do, it’s worth the extra couple of minutes to invest in getting a good level of competency in communicating an effective introduction for yourself.
- Lacks a step-by-step strategy for networking with strangers online
There are techniques that can be used to start building rapport with strangers. But, it would’ve been even more valuable if this course gave scripts to reach out and get target connections on the phone, something that’s important for deepening the relationship with those bigger touchpoints.
It’s also something that felt very missed because there are other networking resources out there that provide a more comprehensive networking roadmap from “stranger” to meeting in person (see Instant Network).
- Teaches how to form positive first impression habits
Keep in mind, this is not a habit development course, it’s a networking course. So, the amount of time Harbinger spends going over this is brief.
But, it’s enough to get the most driven people going and forming positive habits for powerful yet warm first impressions.
- Shares a step-by-step conversation formula for building rapport
Which I found very interesting.
Generally speaking, I’m not a huge fan of conversation formulas that require one to do each step of the formula in order because natural, free-flowing conversation isn’t always going to be able to fit within the rigid construct of a “conversation plan.”
But, this formula was good enough to give insight into another key way to avoid being a sleazy networker: making good conversation.
And, this conversation formula is good enough to encourage good conversation even for beginners.
6 Minute Networking (8.5/10): A very solid course that brought great results when I followed the lessons. It’s certainly too good to be at its current price point (which is free at the time of this review’s writing), yet I’d still have preferred if it would have delivered a solid step-by-step roadmap rather than what felt like a collection of techniques.
Even so, for those of you who are looking for a quick way to re-engage with your network (and especially if you’re new to networking), this course is a great starting point. You won’t get as much as other resources in terms of strategies to build relationships with strangers and eventually meet them in person, but you’ll definitely get a fast, effective way to boost your network and make a healthy habit of networking in only a few minutes a day.