The Secret of Networking in One Diagram

One thing that I have learned in ten years of doing networking workshops is that most people worry about minor details of their professional networking, like how to start conversations, or how often to update their LinkedIn profile. But at the same time they are not clear about the reason we network in the first place, why it works and how to point your efforts in the right direction.

Luckily there is a simple Venn diagram that helps understand these concepts in just a few minutes, or even seconds.

First of all let's assume that you are in the typical position of being able to do something and you would like other people to ask you to do that thing. One trivial way to approach this would be to get to know many people, but that will not help you very much. Knowing other people means that you could, in theory, keep calling them to ask if they need you. Most of the time the answer is no. It also means that you are not considered in the common case when someone asks one of your connections if they know someone like you.

What works much better is to make sure so that more people know who you are, that they trust you and that they know what you do. Then they will think of you when they have a need or they hear of someone else with that need. We can explain this logic with my simple Venn diagram.

Let's assume that I am trying to hire someone who does exactly what you do. Who do I consider? Well normally I consider only the People I Know in the yellow area who I have heard of or at least can discover by asking my network. There might be someone ideal on the mythical tropical island of South Papaya who would be perfect for the job but they are impossible for me to discover.  I am also going to be looking only in the set of People Who Can because I need someone who can do the job, not just someone I trust.

This means that if you want to have any chance at getting asked by me to do the work then you have to be in the intersection of the two sets, in the green "you should be here" space. You might be out in the blue area of the people who can but I don't know. In this case you need to move to the green area by making yourself known. Or you might even be known to me but not for that specialty, so you need to make sure I know what you do. There is also a possibility that you are not in either set, which means you need to both acquire the skill and then make yourself known.

All professional networking consists of is in trying to get into that intersection zone with as many people as you can. To do that all you need to do is to make sure that people know you, trust you and know what you do. You might do this by demonstrating your skills to the people around you or you might do it by artful use of social media, but whatever approach you choose this Venn diagram should always be in the back of your mind.

2017 Edition of Payforward Networking.  There's more about this and other networking techniques in the 2017 edition of Payforward Networking, available in both paperback and Kindle editions. You can get it from Amazon here:

Lectures, Workshops, Coaching and Writing

Andrew Hennigan does lectures, workshops, one to one coaching and writing about professional networking, influencing and much more. You can contact him on or 0046 730 894 475.


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