Relationship Action Plan: Networking With Purpose

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Never Eat Alone" by Keith Ferrazzi. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What is the Relationship Action Plan from Never Eat Alone? How can it help you advance your career and reach your professional goals?

Relationships are critical to career advancement and professional success. The Relationship Action Plan (RAP) is a written plan that details not only how you plan to achieve your professional goals, but who should be in your professional circle to help you get there.

Here is how to create your Relationship Action Plan in four steps.

How to Create Your Relationship Action Plan

To create your Relationship Action Plan, follow these four steps:

  1. Write down a long-term goal that you want to achieve within the next three years. 
  2. Write down at least one medium-term goal that will help you to achieve your long-term goal. This should be a goal that you can achieve within one year.
  3. Write down at least one short-term goal that will help you to achieve your medium-term goal. This should be a goal that you can achieve within three months.
  4. Next to all of your goals, write down who you think you’ll need to network with to achieve them. For example, if your goal is to work at a particular company, write down that business’s hiring manager.

Rules for Creating and Using Your RAP

When creating and using your Relationship Action Plan, there are four rules:

Rule #1: Make each goal as specific as possible. For instance, don’t just write down “make lots of sales.” Instead, write down a specific target and how you’ll measure your success. For example, write, “I want to increase my quarterly sales output substantially. I will consider myself to have achieved this goal once I’m making $100,000 worth of sales each quarter.”

Rule #2: Make the goals challenging, but achievable. For instance, if you made $50,000 worth of sales last month, don’t set the goal of making $50,500 worth of sales next month—that’s far too easy. Likewise, don’t challenge yourself to make $1 million worth of sales next month—that’s completely impossible. Instead, set a challenging yet reasonable revenue target number like $75,000.

If your goals are unchallenging, you’ll find the process of achieving them boring and unfulfilling. Meanwhile, if they’re challenging to the point of being impossible to achieve, you’ll set yourself up for demotivation and disappointment. 

Rule #3: Update your Relationship Action Plan as you complete your initial goals. Having an up-to-date plan for where you want to go next in your career (and who you should network with in the process) is useful no matter how much you’ve already achieved.

Rule #4: Display your RAP somewhere prominent. For example, place it on your work desk or your fridge. Frequently seeing your RAP—and, therefore, being reminded of your goals—will help you stay focused. 

Research the People In Your RAP

Once you have created your Relationship Action Plan, try to find out as much about potential new contacts as possible. For instance, what precisely is their job role? What are their hobbies and interests? What are some of their recent career achievements? Researching people before you meet them is beneficial for two reasons: 

  1. When you meet the person, you’ll be able to tailor the conversation to suit their interests. For example, if you discover they like football, you can bring up a recent game. Your new contact is more likely to enjoy the conversation if you discuss topics they care about—and they’re more likely to want to speak to you again.
  2. You may figure out what you can offer the person to keep your relationship reciprocal. For instance, if your research indicates that your target is seeking investment for their new business, you know that offering them money will go down well. 

The easiest way to research a potential contact is to look at their online presence. Specific websites to look at include:

  • Google: The search results will include recent news articles about the person, which may lead you to information about their latest achievements.
  • LinkedIn: This is where people post about their professional achievements. Also, people’s profiles usually include their work history, which will give you an insight into their career trajectory so far.
  • Twitter: The content of the person’s tweets will give you an indication of their interests. Who they interact with will show you what kinds of people they’re already connected to.
  • Company websites: If your potential contact has done anything remarkable at work, you may find information about it in the PR section of their employer’s website. 
Relationship Action Plan: Networking With Purpose

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  • How to build and maintain a successful professional network
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  • Why you have to put in work to keep your network relationships strong

Darya Sinusoid

Darya’s love for reading started with fantasy novels (The LOTR trilogy is still her all-time-favorite). Growing up, however, she found herself transitioning to non-fiction, psychological, and self-help books. She has a degree in Psychology and a deep passion for the subject. She likes reading research-informed books that distill the workings of the human brain/mind/consciousness and thinking of ways to apply the insights to her own life. Some of her favorites include Thinking, Fast and Slow, How We Decide, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

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