Over the past 2 years I have been sending personal network updates.
When people or companies come to me for advice, the number one thing I tell them is - start a network update. Keep me updated.
It is by far the biggest example of leverage that I have ever seen.
Furthermore, remember growing up and having your boomer parents tell you "you need to network" - that basically didn't mean anything right? Well I can go into a longer essay later on my opinion and practise of networking, but I bring it up to say:
A personal network update is platinum level networking for lazy people.
Not only do I send them, but:
Writing this blog is not only for you if you have stumbled upon it, but is for those who want to call me and ask how to do it - I can refer them here. LEVERAGE. Also when you start sending them and people ask you why/how - you can send them here. LEVERAGE.
Why send network updates?
Without realising it, at whatever age you are now at, you have touched the lives of hundreds if not thousands of people. I have to assume that you (and most people I like to interact with) are good natured humans who like to help people if the friction to doing so is low enough.
It's not that we like to just "help". No one wants to log onto slack for me at 8am and help do my job.
We're humans, we work in stories. We like to help people become the hero of their own stories. We fall in love with the characters, the settings and the challenges.
We want to find champions to champion. It brings us closer and makes us happier to identify as a person who has enabled a champion to slay their dragon.
But how do you know who needs our help?
A tweet? A LinkedIn Post? An instagram story? - The social media overlords won't allow you to see all of these when relevant, and they are designed to keep you from helping/leaving the platform.
How do the people that you know, know you can help them? Do you tell them? Do you offer help?
Probably only for your closest of friends - and even then there are a billion things we can individually help each other with - there isn't enough time in the world to offer them all.
Now flip this around - let's say you need help (you have to let yourself need help - that's another story).
You are the champion on a mission to slay the dragon.
Let's say you're moving country and you're not specifically in need of help, but it would be cool if you could find a new road biking buddy - you'll probably plan to spend time researching meetups and googling good hills without one.
Who do you ask for help? What a weird ask - you probably don't ask. You move and are lonely and bike terrible roads by yourself in the cold.
No one cares about your story because no one knows about your story.
Now if you were telling your story? I bet a handful of people in your network have insider knowledge about where you are moving, they have friends they'd like to introduce you to and might even know of the secret backroads you should zoom down.
Simply by sharing your story with your network you would have unlocked incredible, low effort, outcomes.
And your story continues to develop. It twists and turns. Maybe there's love. Maybe there's failure. Your story isn't one tweet or update. It is an ongoing journey.
The more you involve others as your story develops, the more bought into it they become. They want you to succeed. They want to help you succeed.
Now what's the easiest way to tell your story? A personal network update.
To recap, why do we send personal network updates?
How often do you send personal network updates?
In my opinion - monthly.
I started my network update when I left the last startup I co-founded and I felt profoundly broken. I refused to wither away and die, and I wanted to allow everyone who had supported me for 3 years to continue following the story.
I would rise from the ashes. They could have a front row seat.
For me committing to a monthly update held me accountable. I forced myself to keep thinking and writing and doing. I wanted to keep showing progress. I wanted to give people something to root for.
It was enormously powerful for me.
Flash forward 2 years - without the cheesiness, 2020 has thrown a curveball. I missed a month's update because I didn't do a lot and I was exhausted. I was exhausted because Silicon Valley has aggressively unproductive COVID policies and a global pandemic wreaked havoc on my mental well being.
But hey, that's just me. Sometimes I think my network would like to hear more from me. Sometimes less. A month seems fair.
If a month is too much for you, do it less frequent. The key is - DO IT.
The format of the update
Everyone does this differently. My buddy Jeremy has a highly personal update email, in which every month he updates everyone on the progress towards his goals.
(By personal - one goal is: To Be in a mutually inspirational romantic relationship by the end of next year.)
I like a mix of work and personal life.
My updates run as follows:
Subscribe to my updates in the header of this page.
Here is a sample of some great update emails I receive.
Everyone has their own rules but to help - here are my update rules that I cannot break
Sample of outcomes
Here is a small sample of things that have come from my update email:
A special thanks to Connor for pushing me to write this, Jeremy for being relentlessly vulnerable and allowing me to be a part of his story, Techstars for hammering update email theory into our brains, My wife for being comfortable with me sharing personal life updates and my corgi Oreo for making such great content.
For better or for worse you can follow me over at twitter as I continue to document my journey.