Building a Network for Success: Free Preview

You’ve landed on a free preview of the Building a Network for Success course. We’ve selected two lessons that will help give you an idea of what this course is all about. You’ll find them below. If you’d like to access the rest of the lessons or course materials, you can purchase the course here:

Lesson 2 – The Connector’s Toolbox

Givers, Takers, and Matchers

Successful connectors are like gardeners, but instead of nurturing plants, they nurture people by helping them grow and providing solutions to their problems without the expectation of something in return. In Adam Grant’s book, Give and Take, he calls these people Givers. A Giver is someone who seeks to help others selflessly for the sake of making a positive impact in their lives. Unlike Matchers, who give only when they receive, or Takers, who suck people dry, Givers have no intention of receiving anything from those who benefit from their help. According to Give and Take, a book by Adam Grant, all the help a Giver provides to their network creates a rising tide of success that results in the Giver out-performing Takers and Matchers. Being a Giver has rewards in the short-term too. According to research, people who help others are happier, live longer lives, and are less likely to be depressed.

The giving mentality can’t be faked or used as a bargaining chip for future favors because people will see through the deception. I remember a get-together where an individual tried to give me a backrub (yes really!), offered me a drink, and soon after asked me if he could be introduced to people in my network for his personal gain. Not only was it creepy, but that person also burned his bridge with me and identified himself as a Taker.

The Connector’s Toolbox

How can we give to others when we think we have nothing to offer? Mistakenly, many people think that in order to build a network, one must be inherently charismatic, held in high esteem, or have tons of money. Luckily, that isn’t the case. In their book, Influence Without Authority, Allan Cohen and David Bradford argue that people focus too narrowly on the tangible assets they value, instead of the intangibles that others value.

The Connector’s Toolbox has 5 tools that you can use to give to others without requiring anything but your own effort. They are:

💁‍♀️ Expertise – Applying your skills to help someone solve their problem. If you’re a great editor, maybe you can help a nonprofit with their communications. Are you awesome at Excel? Maybe you can help someone set up a spreadsheet.

👨🏽‍🏫 Mentorship – Listening to the person and providing them with counsel or resources to help them solve their problem. You can share your experiences with others to help them work through their problems or just listen to them so they have a confidant.

✋🏼 Sweat Equity – Offering extra hands on someone’s project or finding information (articles, book recommendations, etc.) to help them when you lack expertise. It’s a great way to get started networking, learn new things, and cement a relationship.

🤝 Introductions – Facilitating introductions between two or more people that can help either person further their goals. The caveat is you’re tapping into someone else’s ability to help, not your own. You must be careful not to take advantage of your connections. In later lessons, I will explain how to do this correctly so it doesn’t backfire. 

🙇🏼‍♂️ Gratitude – Showing people who have impacted your life that you appreciate them. Writing a thoughtful thank you note can do a lot to make you feel happier and the person you’re thanking appreciated. Later in the course I will teach you how to write an excellent thank you note.

Next time you meet someone, remember the Connector’s Toolbox, and think of ways you can apply it towards your relationship.

Giving is Great, But too Much Can Cause Burn Out

It’s important to keep in mind that you can only give if you have the bandwidth to do so. Focusing all of your time to giving without taking care of yourself can cause burn out. Block time for your giving activities so they don’t dominate your calendar, and if you can, give in micro doses.

Adam Rifkin, for example, practices the 5 minute favor. If he can help someone in less than five minutes, he does it. For requests that would take more than 5 minutes, he must contemplate whether he’s the best person for this favor. An example of a 5 minute favor would be introducing two friends to each other knowing that this introduction would help both of them achieve their career goals. Another example could be sharing a friend’s blog post on social media so their work will be seen by more people—this could really lift your friend’s spirits and help them feel validated.

To Do:

  1. Take 15 minutes to think of at least five people you can help by using the Connector’s Toolbox in your course workbook.
  2. Open your course workbook to lesson 2, and write a sentence or two on how you can help each of them.
  3. Schedule time to help those you mentioned.

You probably thought of multiple people to help in your network, but odds are you won’t be able to remember everyone in your network that needs help.

Lesson 9 – How To Approach People You Don’t Know

“Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance.”

Sloppy Requests

We’ve all been on the receiving end of the dreaded “Let’s get coffee and chat” email. You either don’t know this person or it’s an acquaintance you haven’t spoken to in years. Usually these emails are sold to us under the pretenses of friendship. You sit down to talk to this person expecting to build a friendship, and WHAM! The person hits you with a request quicker than Admiral Ackbar can say:

You feel used and abused because this Taker was hiding their true intentions.

Typically a Taker’s request sounds like this:

Hey Connie,

My name is Mark. We don’t know each other but I thought we could meet up.

(Connie’s thoughts: I don’t know Mark, so why should I spend my valuable time with Mark? And what are his intentions?) 

I would like to ask you a few questions about your research. [Mark proceeds to list multiple disconnected, open-ended, poorly researched questions that Connie probably can’t answer or doesn’t have the time to respond via email. Followed by a question about what Mark should do with his life that Connie can’t answer.]

(Connie’s thoughts: Mark hasn’t done his research. I’ve talked about this on my blog. Why does he think I can answer a deeply personal question when I don’t know him? Doesn’t he know I have a family and a busy schedule?)

Can we grab coffee and chat? 

(Connie’s thoughts:  Mark’s true Intentions – I’m going to meet you under the pretense of “I want to be your friend,” but when I meet you I will ask you for a favor.).



Mark’s Request Is Sloppy Due To 3 Reasons:

  1. Mark has a hidden agenda. Connie isn’t stupid. Mark is trying to meet Connie under false pretenses. Mark will burn a bridge with Connie because she sees Mark’s lie and won’t reply to Mark’s email. If Connie sets up the meeting, Mark will ask Connie for a favor in person, which will anger Connie because she thought Mark was looking for friendship. Instead he wanted to use Connie. Connie will definitely not want to associate with Mark again. If Mark was upfront with what he needed from Connie, at worst Connie would say no, but Mark’s reputation with Connie would still be intact. 
  1. Mark is assuming Connie has time to meet in person. What Mark is actually asking for is Connie’s valuable time without considering her needs. Her needs could be precious time with her kids, time spent on a passion project, or just time to unwind. 
  1. Mark is providing Connie little-to-no value. Before I make a request of someone I don’t know, I ask myself, “What can I give?” (Review the Connector’s Toolbox for ideas). If I can’t determine what the person needs, getting what I want now depends on the person’s goodwill and charity, and the odds of my message receiving a reply plummets.  

So how do you increase the odds of getting what you want without hurting the other person?

Stacking The Odds In Your Favor

The number one thing Mark should have done is be honest with himself and Connie. From there, Mark should have done more research before reaching out to Connie. The best ways of going about this are:

🕵️ Research Connie on the internet. Review Connie’s body of work on the internet and try to get inside her mind. If you have questions, see if they can be answered by information that Connie already has online. If what you need from Connie can’t be answered online, proceed to the next step.

🤨 Determine How You Can Help Connie. Often times, Connie (a well-known person or semi-successful person) has to make trade offs on what meetings she agrees to and which ones she cancels. She has to decide if each meeting adds value to her goals. Is there a way Mark can help Connie? Maybe Mark can help promote Connie’s work, provide her with feedback on her recent project, or supply her with research in her field of interest. If Mark runs out of ideas, he can consider using the tools from the Connector’s Toolbox.

👋 Ask for an introduction to Connie. A warm introduction from a mutual connection increases Mark’s chance of Connie responding to Mark’s request because the mutual connection (let’s call him Frank) can vouch for Mark’s character and explain to Connie why Mark is worth Connie’s time. As research has shown, an introduction from Frank will boost Mark’s credibility and Connie will be more willing to help Mark. Before asking for an intro, think how your introduction to Connie is beneficial for Frank and Connie. IMPORTANT: If Frank introduces you to Connie, make sure before and after the meeting you thank Frank for the introduction. Also, after the meeting provide Frank with an update of what happened.

Sending Your Request

If Mark can’t find anyone to introduce him to Connie, he needs to send out a cold email/message. To increase his odds of an email response, the email should be no longer than 75-100 words (there’s an article with great tips on how to do this, below). The email should be so easy to read and answer that Connie can act on it within five minutes. Here’s an example:

Hi Connie,

My name is Mark. I currently work for (Insert Mark’s company and what you do). 

I read your work and think it’s great, and would love to learn more from you. I wanted to see if (Insert here your request, make it short and to the point, and why it can benefit Connie).

I know your time is precious. If you have a few minutes to connect over the phone or in person, I’d very much appreciate your time! If so, let me know when you’re free. If you prefer a call my number is (Insert your phone number).



There’s no guarantee Connie will reply, but by showing you respect Connie’s time and your question is easily answerable, you have dramatically increased your odds of hearing back.

Pre and Post-Meeting Preparation

Now let’s say you’re Mark, and Connie agrees to meet with you. What should you be doing before and after the meeting?

  1. Pre Meeting Work:
    1. Review what you want to talk about with Connie so the conversation doesn’t drift. Think of no more than 3 critical things you want to accomplish during the meeting, so you can stay on track during the conversation, but don’t make the conversation seem robotic, it’s better to let the interaction flow naturally.
    2. CRITICAL: During the conversation try to learn more about what Connie needs so you can apply the Connector’s Toolbox. You don’t want this relationship to become transactional because those relationships don’t last.
  2. Post Meeting (Open your Connection Tracker to take notes and track tasks):
    1. What were your key takeaways from the meeting? 
    2. Did Connie assign you any tasks or did you promise you were going to do something for her (check out X, go read Y)? 
    3. Did you send Connie a thank you note for her time?

Remember, don’t treat others the way you wouldn’t want to be treated. Be honest in your requests and upfront with what you need. This protect others time and most importantly your reputation.

To Do:

  1. Think of someone you want to reach out to who you don’t already know.
  2. Follow the steps above to reach out to this person.
  3. If a meeting is scheduled, make sure to use your Connection Tracker to take notes and track tasks. 

Extra Credit: Once the meeting is over, use the Conversation Journal to see how you can improve.


We have an email template you can copy/paste and send to your manager to let them know what you’ll learn in the course, and if it will qualify for reimbursement. You can find that here.

This course is a total of 1 hour long. 
– *Completion of the workbook is optional and outside of this timeframe.
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Meet Your Instructor

Jordan Thibodeau

Jordan has spent over a decade forging relationships with CEOs, authors, and entrepreneurs through his professional work on Google’s Mergers and Acquisitions Team, and Google’s Talks Program - a TED-like series recorded for offices worldwide. Jordan’s also the community manager and founder of the Silicon Valley Investor’s Club (SVIC).

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