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How to Grow Your Network Like Jamie Foxx

"How to Grow Your Network Like Jamie Foxx," Lynn Daue
"How to Grow Your Network Like Jamie Foxx," Lynn Daue

In a December 2015 interview with Tim Ferriss, Jamie Foxx confessed his not-so-secret plot to infiltrate the music industry. After releasing his first R&B album to so-so reception, Foxx decided that he needed to create relationships with industry influencers, namely Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs. Combs was, at the time, one of the biggest names in the music business and notorious for throwing epic, exclusive parties whenever he was in Los Angeles.

Foxx started following Combs's entourage whenever he could, with a camera in hand. As it was, as Foxx says, "back in the day-day" when few people had access to portable cameras, Combs would let Foxx into the parties to record.

Foxx had identified the things that Combs wanted (exposure & validation) and then gave it to him. Or, he added value to Combs's life. And in return, he got the things he wanted (access & opportunity).

Let's take a look at the seven networking tricks that Foxx used—and how you can replicate them. 

7 Steps to Growing Your Network Like a Rock Star Multi-Talented Entertainer

1. Identify your purpose for pursuing a relationship

In Foxx's case, he wanted to form a relationship to boost his music career. He had laid the groundwork by putting out an album; without solid relationships with people who could help him, his debut fell a little flat.

Similarly, the first step for you is to figure out why you want to create, build, and maintain a relationship with someone. Are you looking for a new peer? A mentor? Access? Inspiration? Opportunity?

Questions to ask yourself:

  1. What do I want to do?
  2. How does this fit into my Big Picture?
  3. What do I expect from forming a relationship with someone?

2. Identify the influencers (preferably the one with the most pull)

Foxx knew that Combs was the best person to whom to be connected for his overall purpose: Combs had status, and that status could be extended to Foxx by association.

Likewise, you have influencers in your circle, whether you're in business for yourself, employed at a mega-corporation, or the stay-at-home parent. Association with those influencers will give you access to resources and relationships that could benefit you in the long run.

Questions to ask yourself:

  1. Who is the top dog in my industry/area of interest?

3. Make yourself known to the influencer

Foxx had some celebrity that he used to leverage his entrance with Combs. As he says, "[Combs] knew me, the kid who was on In Living Color, whatever like that, but it wasn't elevated." Foxx was known, but not yet well known.

You probably don't need a hit TV show to get on the radar of your chosen influencer. You do, however, need to get on their radar. This can mean attending the same events, speaking up in meetings, or joining the same online groups (particularly if you're in the online business space). Whatever you choose to do, this is all about upping your visibility.

Questions to ask yourself:

  1. Where does the influencer hang out?
  2. How can I make myself known to the influencer?

4. Identify what the influencer needs

Careful observation revealed to Foxx that Combs wanted one thing: to demonstrate his status and celebrity. One of the ways that Combs did this was by throwing exclusive parties; the problem with that tactic is that no one knew what they were missing. The parties could have been terrible and every attendee paid a handsome sum to spread the word about how much fun they had for all anyone knew.

Foxx fixed that for Combs by recording the parties. Now, Combs had evidence that his parties were the place to be, which increased his status. By association, so did Foxx's.

The influencer in your circle needs something too, even if she doesn't know it yet. The PTA president may need someone to reassure her that she's doing a great job or someone to help her prep dinner that night. Your boss's boss may need someone to volunteer for an assignment that no one else will do.

Questions to ask yourself:

  1. What can I do to add value to the influencer's life?
  2. What am I willing to do to add value to the influencer's life?
  3. Would I be willing to do this thing without promise of return?

Very Important Caveat: Questions 2 and 3 are VERY important here, and I absolutely recommend answering them before choosing a course of action. Question 2 reveals what your personal boundaries and values are; question 3 reveals your expectations.

I do not recommend engaging in any action that is in conflict with your morals, ethics, or values—nothing is worth that price. And I do not recommend engaging in action in with full expectation of return—you'll only create resentment in both you and the other person.

5. Invest your resources (time, talent, and/or treasure)

Foxx invested all three resources in pursuing a relationship with Combs: he invested time by following Combs around LA; he invested his production and video talent; and he invested treasure in purchasing camera equipment that may or may not yield him a result.

You also have time, talent, and treasure to invest, some more than others. If you have time, you can volunteer to do grunt work that no one else has time for. If you have a specific talent, donating your skills to your chosen influencer will save them both time and treasure—which they will appreciate. And if you have treasure (i.e. money), you can invest it in something to be used to add value to the influencer's life.

Questions to ask yourself:

  1. What time do I have to invest?
  2. What talent do I have to invest?
  3. What treasure do I have to invest?

6. Be in the right place at the right time with the right preparation

At the critical moment, Foxx was at the club (in the right place) when Combs arrived (at the right time) with a video camera in tow (with the right preparation).

You, too, can be in the right place at the right time with the right preparation. You can have a gap-filling, branded resource available for the leader in your industry that you allow them to distribute to their community. You can have data sets ready to go for your boss when the company president swings by "for a quick presentation." You can pull out a file of fundraising ideas when the chairperson of your social organization asks for input.

Very Important Note: you will likely be in the wrong place at the wrong time with little preparation more often than not. That's okay—it's a learning experience for the next time.

7. Take the opportunity or make the ask

Foxx finally made the ask: "Yo, Puff, can I record?" In that moment, Combs saw a guy he recognized, who was prepared to add value, offering something that he didn't even know he needed until he saw it. Foxx was in.

The same goes for you: if you're ready, willing, and able, go ahead and offer your services. The worst they can say is no; the best they can say is an effort-affirming yes.

Questions to ask yourself:

  1. Am I ready to give of my time, talent, and/or treasure?
  2. Can I add value to the influencer in this moment?

In Summary

Foxx's big networking secret is that he added value to the lives of the people with whom he wanted to network.

The other factors are important—having a goal, being known, being prepared, etc,; the most important factor is that Foxx was of service without expectation of return.

When you put this process into play, that's the most important question you can ask yourself: How can I be of service to the person with whom I want to network? Asking that question first and foremost will often lead to mutually beneficial personal and professional relationships.

Service is one of the big things that we promote in the Reach Out Initiative, my free, five-day mini-course for building better personal and professional relationships and growing your network. We focus on how to build relationships in an authentic way that benefit both parties, and we stay away from networking tactics with a high sleaze factor. (Because sleaze is gross.)

If this sounds revolutionary to you, then I invite you to join the Reach Out Initiative today. The mini-class runs April 25-29, 2016,and includes five days of lessons delivered to your inbox.

gInstantly grab the support you need to create a tribe of people who know, like, and trust you by entering your name and email address below.

Further Reading (& Listening):

  1. "Jamie Foxx on Workout Routines, Success Habits, and Untold Hollywood Stories," The Tim Ferriss Show
  2. "Jamie Foxx explains the networking tricks he used to launch his Grammy-winning music career," Business Insider