The 5-Star Approach to Networking
It takes a lot of time and energy to put yourself out there, find and connect with the right people, and have the right conversations in order to generate enough incoming business to meet your organization’s goals.
This post will help you network more efficiently, using none other than The 5-Star Approach.
I’m guessing, if you’re in business development, you’re already reaching out to tight and loose connections giving them referrals and asking for reciprocation.
You’re probably already tracking and measuring your efforts with a CRM such as SalesForce, HubSpot, ZenDesk, or maybe a scrappy spreadsheet.
You may also be involved in 1 Million Cups, BNI, or other networking groups. BNI is a highly structured platform for trading referrals and has nearly unlimited potential for output.
If you’re looking for specific ways to reach out so you can make yourself top of mind for your professional connections, consider the 5-Star Approach to Networking. This follows a “Give and Take” (Adam Grant) philosophy and helps you create three types of 5-Star Moments for others: 5-Star Experiences, 5-Star Apologies, and 5-Star Thank You’s.
Strong professional relationships (and networks) are built when you create these 5-Star Moments for people in your network. It can be paid or unpaid, formal or informal, digital or in person, long or short, in or out of your target market.
In the following sections you’ll learn how to create 5-Star Moments for those you need to connect with, as well as those from whom you have nothing to gain.
This type of 5-Star Moment is the most common, and takes the most work. However, it also goes a long way in terms of building the relationship. Many of these fantastic experiences will be unforgettable for the receiver.
5-Star Experiences follow three steps: Open, Deliver, and Follow Up:
Open: To your colleague’s perspective. Ask “What would make a 5-Star Experience for you?” Together, make a plan.
Deliver: Do what you said you would do. Check in to ensure you’re on target. Modify as needed.
Follow Up: By double checking on details to ensure it really was a 5-Star Experience. Modify as needed.
Example Script (If You’re Taking My Networking Course)
“Hi [Name], I’m taking a really fun networking course and my assignment today is to reach out to one person and see how I can create value for them by helping solve an important problem (any problem). That person is you, so even if we can’t meet today, I’m very interested in fulfilling this assignment as soon as possible. I understand if you’re too busy. If not, when would be the best time for you to connect?”
From there, deliver the experience while checking in, then follow up to ensure it was 5-Stars.
Ideas For 5-Star Experiences (With or Without the Script Above)
- Write a recommendation on LinkedIn (remember, it MUST be authentic). Talk about their strengths, why you’ve enjoyed working with them, what they did for you, and any specific occasions they delivered value for you.
- Think of someone you can connect them with. It could be someone in their target market or industry, someone very senior to them who does (or did) what they do, or someone they admire (like a favorite author).
- Find an article or post that might appeal to their line of work, such as top news in their industry, how-to (for something specific that they – or their clients/customers – do), info about changing regulations, or deals and discounts.
Because it’s so rare, an authentic apology can be enormously powerful. Think about it. When was the last time someone really apologized to you (especially when they didn’t need anything from you)? It’s very rare.
It requires genuine humility, and most people can’t make themselves do it. Therefore, your apology will stand out (if it’s genuine).
The steps of the 5-Star Apology have the following simple components:
- What you did
- Why you feel bad
- How you plan to improve in the future
They don’t have to be long or articulate. It does help to speak slowly and carefully. Speaking slowly can be influential because it’s also rare that people slow down to share a message.
Typically we are breathless and in a rush to get on to the next thing.
A nice, slow apology can help mend the fence and build a relationship up, even if it was in a hole before.
“Hi [Name], I wanted to apologize for…”
- Not reaching out to you sooner…
- Not sharing this sooner…
- Not thanking you sooner…
- Not taking more initiative to close the loop…
- Not keeping in touch…
“This made me feel uncomfortable because…”
- I don’t like to keep people waiting
- I don’t like to let relationships get stale
- You’ve been such a good partner/teammate/friend to me…
- It’s been so long…
“In the future, I’m going to respond to these thoughts sooner, as I have them.”
Note: These last two components may not be necessary if the person really wasn’t expecting anything from you. You could even say (simply): “I should have reached out/shared this sooner.”
5-Star Thank You’s
I love the 5-Star Thank You. It’s the easiest of the three types of 5-Star Moments and can be applied most liberally, with 100% sincerity, in small, rapid doses. Here’s how it goes:
- What you’re grateful for that they affected, offered, or influenced.
- What impact it had.
- Why it’s important to you.
That’s it. Push as many Thank You’s as you can, each day. There’s no limit!
- Thank you for showing integrity when you…
- Thanks again for connecting me with…
- I appreciate the way you mentored/advised/suggested…
- I’m grateful for the way you…
When you reach out to someone in an authentic way that is clearly thoughtful and unique to them (as you’ve seen in the examples here), they’re not going to know they are the 100th person you have reached out to today. There is no way for them to know that. They only feel a special connection between you and them, as if for that moment, they are the most important person in your life. And that’s what matters.
Here are a few more ideas of things you can say to break the ice and connect with people in or outside of your rapidly growing network.
- I’m always looking out for my peeps…
- I was thinking of you when…
- This article reminded me of you…
Asking For the Referral
And finally, here is my favorite way to sincerely ask for a referral:
“I’m sorry to bother you with this, I was wondering if you could give me some advice… I came to you because of you [diverse/lengthy/deep/relevant] experience with [product/industry/topic/people/networking]. I was wondering if you introduce me to someone who has [this type of problem/solution/position].”
One Last Tip
Now, with The 5-Star Approach to Networking, your tech systems, your networking groups, and your existing connections, you’re unstoppable. I’m going to give you one last tip that has helped me strategize for my business, push me to perform in my daily work, and that has even been productive for my health. Read this book by Grant Cardone: The 10X Rule. It will change your life.
My Networking Ask For You
Do you want to decrease stress, improve job satisfaction, and give more value to your team mates and your organization?
Of course that’s just the beginning.
Many people don’t know that a 10% increase in emotional intelligence yields (on the average) a salary jump of $13,000 per year.
Would you like to make another $130,000 over the next ten years, just by improving your work relationships? I can help you measure and improve your work relationships on a weekly basis with the easiest approach out there: The 5-Star Approach.
For a limited time, we are offering our Bronze program (for free) to a few lucky people: four structured coaching sessions, access to all our online content, activities, and our online community, in exchange for a short video testimonial.
If you’re interested, please email me: Tyler[at]5StarApproach.com