November 28, 2017 ・ Written by T.J. Duane

Networking like cavemen (really)

Building quality connections with micro-consults

Networking like cavemen (really)

When I think of the heyday of professional networking, I go all the way back to the Stone Age.

Cavemen knew how to work together to get stuff done. Okay, so a lot of that stuff had to do with not getting eaten, but there was incredible innovation going on too (for instance, I’m a big fan of the wheel.)

It was a time when early humans shared knowledge and collaborated closely to get ahead - that sounds like quality professional networking.

Today we mostly just rack up 500+ connections on LinkedIn and swap tons of business cards. But if you feel like you’re accumulating more than you’re collaborating, something’s probably not right.

So how can we take a cue from our ancient ancestors and build real, collaborative relationships? We start by focusing on the quality of our connections, not the quantity. Here’s how you can make it happen:

Start with a micro-consult - Offer to get on the phone for 15 minutes with somebody you just met. That’s enough time to tell if you can help each other out and share some pearls of wisdom, all on your coffee break.

Go deeper - If you think there’s really something to this new relationship, get started on a project together. Whether you’re in the nonprofit space or a corporate environment, a little bit of volunteering or contract work can be the start of a long, happy collaboration.

Rinse and Repeat - Obviously not every micro-consult develops further, but that’s OK! You met somebody new, offered some advice, and had a meaningful professional interaction. You never know when that positive energy will come back around to help you. Go out and do it again!

Do Micro-Consults Really Work? Spoiler Alert: Yup.

Let me give you an example. Last week I saw an entrepreneur mention her new product on BrightCrowd. It was all about matching potential co-founders.

This was right in my wheelhouse, since it was something we had previously tried. I offered to get on a quick call with her to let her know why we had pivoted away from that model. Together we brainstormed different paths she might take.

The upshot? Fifteen minutes of my time will probably save her months of wasted effort. The utilitarian part of me says that’s already time well spent. Not only that, I walked away with insights from her experience that I’ve already begun implementing.

The internet is a marvelous tool that lets us do way more than just accumulate connections. And even though our tribes today span the globe, with a little effort we can build close, meaningful professional relationships, just like the cave people did. So let’s start following in their (prehistoric) footsteps!

If you want to discover helpful people, share knowledge and start collaborating, check out BrightCrowd.