Author's note: I am SO excited to finally publish this interview with Molly Beck, the author of the newly-released Reach Out: The Simple Strategy You Need to Expand Your Network and Increase Your Influence!
We did this email interview over a year ago, just after the July 2016 round of the Reach Out Initiative, and I've been holding onto it so that it could go live when her book was released. Guess what, y'all—that's TODAY.
Reach Out is a networking book that aims to help you stop schmoozing and start building real relationships with peers and influencers in your field. Molly's method, called "Reach Out" or just "RO", is rooted in intentionality and genuine interest in others—deliberately trying to connect with specific people in a mutually beneficial (and not completely self-interested) way. The result is that you end up with more confidence and assertiveness; a broader network of people with diverse skills and knowledge; and access to and knowledge of better opportunities to grow your brand, business, or career.
But enough from me; here's Molly.
A Q&A with Molly Beck, Author of Reach Out
Lynn Daue: What prompted you to start practicing daily Reach Outs?
Molly Beck: Early in my time living in New York City, I was at a party in the East Village. I was talking to another person who was having a lot of success in their field. I’m pretty sure he worked in finance, but he wasn’t anyone that I knew very well, and I never saw him again after that night.
As he and I chatted, I was struck with the idea that the reason he was having success was not because he was particularly amazing. He was having success because of who he knew. At first that made me angry, because I assumed that he was using the “old boy’s club” and his parents' networks. It especially makes me angry because I am neither old, nor a boy, and I live in a city and work in an industry where neither of my parents can be particularly helpful in terms of connections.
For the next week, I kept thinking about this interaction. If this guy was successful because of who he knew, why couldn’t I be successful for the same reason? I just would need to put in a little bit more work than him to make it happen. If the secret to success was knowing more people, then I’d just have to ... know more people. And the more people I knew, the more I would be able to ask for help, land a job, make more friends, do everything I wanted to do in this new city. It was time to put in some elbow grease and make it happen.
Always one to find the silver lining, I also decided that creating a network from scratch rather than through my parents’ or my non-existent Ivy League connections would be an incredibly freeing—it would mean I could design the dream community of who I want to know.
So from there, I decided that, as much as possible, every workday I would Reach Out to someone new. I was already Reaching Out on a much smaller scale—maybe once a month—but I wanted to really scale it up. I’d mainly use email or social media since they are free. I put RO, short for “Reach Out” on my calendar as a recurring task every weekday and gave it no end date.
LD: When you began your Reach Out practice, what fears did you have to overcome?
MB: I was most nervous about being seen as an annoyance to other people—like I didn't have connections on my own.
LD: How did you overcome your fears and make Reaching Out a natural practice?
MB: Honestly, the best thing for me was forcing myself to Reach Out each weekday. That kept me from getting too hung up on one person's response—it forced me to push through and just keep Reaching Out, with the knowledge that sometimes I'd get a response and sometimes I wouldn't, and that would be okay.
LD: Are there different kinds of Reach Outs?
MB: Yes! I think of them as being four different types of Reach Outs, or ROs:
- The Re-RO: Reaching Out to someone you already know from the past or is on the edge of your network
- The Follow-up RO: Reaching Out to someone you have met in passing in real life and want to build a deeper connection to
- The Borrowed Connection RO: Reaching Out to a friend of a friend who has suggested you two should know each other
- The Cool RO: Reaching Out to someone who you have no direct connection to at this time, formally known as the cold email
LD: What is your best advice for Reaching Out?
MB: Every email should include a Gift (what you are offering someone) and a Favor (what you are asking for help with).
The Gift is something that you can offer to everyone you Reach Out to:
- A compliment
- An article or book recommendation
- Knowledge that you have access to that they don't
- Featuring them on your blog or podcast
- Free advice or a skill that you can offer
Ideally you pair a compliment with another type of Gift as well, like a compliment plus a book recommendation or a compliment with a skill that you can offer.
Then, pair your Gifts with a Favor. Keep the Favor a concise, tangible, and non-Googleable ask. If every Reach Out has a Gift and a Favor, in line with your career goals, you're in great shape.
I want to thank Molly again for sharing her Reach Out strategy with us—and for overlooking my grammatical errors in the email (I swear, I know the difference between "there," "they're," and "their")!
If you're intrigued by Molly's Reach Out practice and want to learn more, grab a copy of Reach Out: The Simple Strategy You Need to Expand Your Network and Increase Your Influence today!
Ready to practice Reaching Out?
Join the Reach Out Initiative (featured in Reach Out!), starting October 16, 2017!