The 70-20-10 Networking Rule

 In Professional Networking

The 70-20-10 Networking RuleNot a day goes by when I don’t hear from someone who is frustrated about the job search and unenthusiastic about networking. Most people are not natural networkers but at least they are willing to expand their comfort zone in order to be seen and heard in a competitive job market.

However, if the concept of networking sends you into an emotional frenzy and paralyzes you from moving forward, there is hope. Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Organizational Psychologist and coach and I recently came across a great piece she wrote about the 70-20-10 Networking Rule that may help you move forward.

Here’s how:

  • The First 70%. For this initial segment, choose potential contacts that work within your direct core area or have a similar role. To keep things interesting, choose a few contacts within organizations that are slightly different than yours in terms of customers, size or possibly geographical location. Ask about their work – better yet – inquire about the challenges they are currently facing. You’ll undoubtedly gain a new perspective.
  • The Related 20%. These individuals are working in areas related or “adjacent” to your core area. Look for those individuals who would support roles similar to yours, or those that might hold roles with whom you would interface regularly.
  • The Outrageous Outliers (The final 10%). Go a little crazy here. Reach out to those engaged in work that simply interests you. Don’t be concerned with their core area as compared to yours – just possess a passion to learn about their area of expertise. Convey your interest early on – ask about articles, posts and books that could help you “cross -pollinate” and apply their knowledge set to your work life.

Some things to remember:

  • Start slowly, within your own organization or industry. Ask for connection recommendations – and begin branching out from there.
  • At conferences ask for introductions to those who work in your target areas.
  • Utilize the social media channels where you feel most comfortable (and where you seem to have the most success). Be sure to explain the motivation behind your request to connect.
  • Remember, that not everyone will respond. You’ll never know why – but don’t assume the reason is you.
  • If you connect, plan a 15 minute chat. Explore mutual territory or potential areas of collaboration, and see if you “gel”.

Great wisdom, Dr. Gottschalk and this networking approach seems more feasible and palatable for the networking fearful. Now go forth and meet people!

With over a decade of career and professional development coaching experience, Caroline Dowd-Higgins has a desire to empower and energize people to achieve their personal goals.  Her training style is engaging, high energy, and positive with a focus on unlocking the self-advocate within each of us.  Read more from Caroline at

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