I want to talk to you about social mapping. The longer I live in the same town, work in the same industry and volunteer — the more I see the invisible network of my social universe. That means that I know that Sam, who is on the library board with me, used to work at the college, so he’s a great person to ask for who to talk to there. He knows my friends, Peter, the health care lawyer and his fundraising wife, Kerry, who also go to my church. They know the former city councilwoman, Judy, who is on the board of the health clinic — she’s their neighbor! And she may know the mom of one of my son’s friends, Jack, who is also a writer and she’s a great person to refer me for developmental editing jobs (see the recommendation in my last post!) for college professors, who also know Sam! It means that I can’t give a lot of advice about where to find new clients because my biggest projects have always come from my social network.
But here’s some wisdom I can offer. When you want something, but don’t know how to get it, start making a map of people you know and see if anyone can get you the introduction or the advice to get you there. You may be surprised and who is a good connection, or who turns out to be a great connection! I often use online tool Coggle to map out concepts and it’s great for social mapping as well. I start with “mutual friends” on Facebook and then go to “mutual connections” on LinkedIn…it can be interested to see that you know a bunch of people from the same gym, sports team or that your kids go to school or play sports together. It’s a kind of networking — but really it’s just making visible your existing connections in your town.
Here’s an example: I am working on a fundraiser for a political campaign, and I want to know where the candidate and I overlap. So I make a social map. People we know in common, some are obvious, some are surprising! Then I look through my lists and see who I’m surprised that we don’t have in common, people who are active in politicals, who work in the same field or live in the same neighborhood — these are people where I can make an introduction, and that is potentially a very valuable introduction if it expands his network in a positive way. It could be for lots of reasons, social or business, but helping other people with their networks will help yours in the long run. (Have you read Inga Carboni’s book, by the way?)
Try it locally. Try it for your industry. It’s a great way to map out pathways to your goal.