Building a People Funnel
“Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don’t recognize them.” —Ann Landers
Yesterday, we learned about conversation experiments. Today, we will learn how to expand your network with the People Funnel.
What Usually Happens during Networking Events?
Professors Paul Ingram and Michael Morris conducted a study with 100 MBA students to see how people interact during networking events. Before the event, each student said their goal was to meet new people. However, most students ended up talking to people they already knew, instead of trying to meet new people. The person who met the most new people was the bartender!
So, what’s stopping us from reaching out to new people? One of the reasons is the fear of rejection. According to the research of Professors Namkje Koudenburg, Tom Postmes, and Ernestine H.Gordijn, silence during a conversation “produces feelings of rejection and negative emotions.” So your brain is telling you, “Hey, you probably shouldn’t speak to that stranger because if you fail, you will feel the pain of rejection. Hmm, in that case, I’ll stick to reading Reddit.”
So, how do we meet new people without the fear of rejection?
Introducing the People Funnel
A People Funnel is a grouping of people dedicated to a common cause that amplifies your reach and ability to connect with new people while minimizing the fear of rejection. A People Funnel could be a Facebook or Reddit group, Toastmasters club, after-work basketball team, or a volunteer group. The People Funnel can be offline or online, but it’s preferable to have a face-to-face interaction to make it easier to solidify relationships.
Members of a People Funnel share the same love for a common interest or a goal, which develops a shared identity that makes communication easier. This shared interest makes it easier to connect with others. Having a higher purpose helps people shake off the icky feelings of networking, because, according to some research, networking can make us feel dirty.
Different Types of People Funnels
So, how can we get involved with a People Funnel? Here are a few hints:
1. Join a Funnel. You can find funnels online, at your work, or through word of mouth. Make sure your goals align with the funnel’s mission by reading about the funnel and meeting with the group’s organizers. They are the lifeblood of the organization, and if you don’t mesh well, you will be rejected by the group. So, take the time and effort to get to know them, and if they like you, they will start introducing you to other members of the group. It’s a good idea to at least meet with one member of the funnel per week to build bonds with people in the group.
2. Work for a Funnel. Once you have been a regular member of the funnel, it’s time for you to decide to ramp up your commitment to the funnel. Ask the organizers of the group if you can help co-host events, recruit new members, or fill a specific need of the group.
3. Build a Funnel. Find something you are interested in and build a community around it. The benefits of starting a funnel are: You can steer the direction of the group, your connecting efforts are amplified, and you become the central hub for new connections.
If you decide to build your own People Funnel:
• Find a topic you’re interested in and start meeting with others about it.
• If enough people are interested in the topic, create an online group to talk about the topic.
• Start getting the word out about your group. It does take time to get your group started, but as we said at the beginning of this lesson, “Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work.”
• Begin recruiting volunteers to help you grow the group. Explain to them the benefits of taking an active role in the People Funnel.
A good example of this is when I built an employee-organized real estate investment group. It started with an offline event I organized to talk about real estate. After the event, I created a Google group (you could use Facebook, LinkedIn, or any other service) with 20 of my colleagues, which grew to 2,400 members.
Your level of involvement in a People Funnel is up to you, but in order for you to develop a strong network, it’s critical that you are part of one in some form.
That wraps it up for today! Tomorrow, we will learn how to reach out to people you don’t know.
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