What if you had a century of peers that always had your back? I’m talking about building a small army of “Real Colleagues” that know you intimately and are there to support you whenever the need arises. They are the people that will go out of their way to help you with an introduction, that show up to all of your speaking engagements, and that are always on the look out for people that can help you achieve your goals. To get there, you’ll need to get organized, energized and committed to building intimate relationships with 100 people that reciprocate your total trust.
Author Seth Goden often talks about the power of Tribes, the title of his penultimate book which argues that lasting and substantive change can be best effected by a tribe: a group of people connected to each other, to a leader and to an idea. Kevin Kelly, author of The Technium blog famously argued that all an artist, craftsperson, or performer needs to make a living is to have 1,000 True Fans. My feeling is that to achieve everything you want to achieve in your career, all you need is a tribe of 100 Real Colleagues.
How & Why to Get Started
I make it a point to stay connected using LinkedIn with nearly every executive I meet at networking events. However, with just over 700 contacts, it’s simply impossible to keep track of everyone over any sustained period of time. Truth be told, I really don’t have a desire to get to know everyone intimately, just those that I felt a “connection” with and that I believe are worth knowing well.
I find it easier to fully commit myself to something when I can measure in advance the amount of work the process will require. I’ve chosen 100 people because it’s a large enough number where it can have a far reaching impact and yet it’s manageable based on my perceived value and current workload.
To get started, I used LinkedIn’s contact manager to tag the 100 people I want to know for the duration of my career. I called my new tag, “Ryon’s 100.” They are the folks that do interesting work, that share similar interests and that generally have personalities I find pleasant and insightful. After skimming through all 700+ contacts, I came up with 60 people that fit my criteria.
As I meet new people, or get to learn more about the people I’m already connected with, I’ll add them to my list. After I reach 100, I’ll start to reevaluate who is still relevant and who might be worth replacing. As Seth Godin describes the True Fans theory, it requires patience, consistency and a focus on long-term relationships and life time value.
Do you have a compilation of A-list contacts that you focus on? How do you deliver value to those contacts? Write in your ideas in the comments field so we can all learn from your experiences.