To make these goals possible, I mapped out the most important players in both the online and games industries, from CEOs and journalists to programmers and academics. My goal was to get to know almost all of them within a year. To create excitement around our product, I wrote down a list of people I called “influentials”: the early adopters, journalists, and industry analysts that help spread the initial buzz about a product or service. Next, I made a list of potential customers, potential acquirers, and people who might be interested in funding us down the road. (In creating your own categories, each should correspond to your own goals.)
When you make such lists, it’s important you name the actual decision makers, and not just an organization. The point here is to have a readily accessible and specific list of names.
At the outset, concentrate on the people who are already part of your existing network. I bet you have no idea how vast and widespread it really is. As I noted in the previous chapter, take the time to list people such as:
Friends of relatives
All your spouse’s relatives and contacts
Members of professional and social organizations Current and former customers and clients
Parents of your children’s friends
Neighbors, past and present
People you went to school with
People you have worked with in the past
People in your religious congregation
Former teachers and employers
People you socialize with
People who provide services to you.
Next, I enter the gathered names into a database. (I tend to use Microsoft’s Outlook, but there are plenty of programs out there that are just as good.) I then create call sheets by region, listing the people I know and those I’d like to know. When I’m in a given town, I’ll try to phone as many people as I can. I have the numbers in my Palm and BlackBerry; both devices have unique and important functionality to me, so I’ve kept both.
I also print out and carry these lists around with me wherever I go. They focus my efforts in cabs between meetings. I have something palpable to encourage me to reach out. Some of the lists you create will be related to your action plans; others are more general, helping you to stay connected. The way you organize your lists can be fluid. I have lists by geographical location, by industry, by activity (other runners, for instance, or people who like to go out on the town), whether they’re an acquaintance or friend, and so on.
Adding to the names on your lists is simply a matter of looking in the right place. In the beginning stages at YaYa, I read all the trade magazines having to do with advertising and games. If I read about someone who fell into one of my categories, I’d put him on a list and find out his contact information. When you’re looking for people to reach out to, you’ll find them everywhere. One great resource for making lists is—it almost sounds absurd—other people’s lists. Newspapers and magazines do rankings of this sort all the time.
There’s another category you might want to add, something I call my “aspirational contacts.” There are those extremely high-level people who have nothing to do with my business at hand but are just, well, interesting or successful or both. The people on that list may be anyone from heads of state and media moguls, to artists and actors, to people others speak highly of. I list these people, too.
Remember, if you’re organized, focused, and a stickler for taking names, there’s no one that’s out of reach.
Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time by Keith Ferrazzi, Tahl Raz