Recently, I’ve been thinking long and hard about ways to use the incalculably fantastic network of intelligent, experienced and creative people I’ve met over the past few years; 170 LinkedIn contacts, nearly a thousand Twitter followers, mountains of business cards and an address book that’s as full of passionate people as a TED Talk!
Write someone and ask them for help every day
It’s amazing how well this works. Just make a habit of coming up with one person each day that might be able to help you in some way — with an introduction, an idea, a conversation, anything. If you think of someone you already know, then it’s easy to ask for help, but don’t be bashful about asking people you don’t know for help.
When you tell people you’re working on starting your own business, many of them will get excited or interested, and be willing to offer a hand. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t hear back — just try someone else the next day. When you’re starting a new business no one knows what you’re up to, so reaching out and asking for help very often can do an enormous amount to get things rolling.
Simple, no? Take 10 minutes every day to approach someone who has either more experience, or a different view to yours, and ask them a burning question. At first, you might worry you’ll get the cold shoulder – and sometimes you will, the world is full of assholes. But it’s also full of great people with plenty of insight to share.
Keep a scratchbook – mine’s a pocket moleskine – of all sorts of questions and ideas. Don’t hesitate to approach the big wigs either. You’d be surprised how happy high-profile people can be when you’re modest and honest about your requests.
Of course, don’t waste their time and ask a question for the sake of asking. Use those few minutes a day wisely and you’ll expand your knowledge, your network and your horizons.