By Andrew Neitlich

Who is on your Must-Know List?

By Andrew Neitlich


In the above blog, gilbertglee asks about the types of people a web designer should contact in order to have a powerful network of contacts.

That’s an important question. Every web designer/developer should have a constantly updated “must-know” list. These are 10-15 people that you want to meet in order to expand your network and reach people who know people.


In the book The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (Malcolm Gladwell), the author introduces the concept of “Connectors.” Connectors are people who know lots of people.

One of your top marketing priorities should be to identify the connectors in your area and build relationships with them.

So, which connectors should you seek out?

Well, it depends on your target market. If you focus on your geographic community, then find people who are community leaders: banking executives, members of boards of local non-profits, religious leaders, political leaders, executives at the Chamber of Commerce, and the people you see mentioned in the newspaper over and over again.

If you focus on a specific industry, then find people who know people in that industry: association executives, journalists for trade magazines specializing in that industry, successful non-competitive salespeople marketing to your industry, and people who hire people in your target market.

All of us should have a list of 10-15 people we want to meet to expand our network. Then develop a plan to meet them. Asking for advice is an easy way to do that, and then find ways to develop the relationship over time. Not everyone on your list will cooperate, but all you need is a couple.

Questions to ask include:
– Who would you suggest as good people to know, given what I do?
– How can I help you with your goals? What kinds of referrals/customers do you seek?
– Who do you know who is looking for [the benefit you provide, e.g. ways to get more business, ways to get a jump on the competition or stay ahead of the competition]?
– What are key organizations to join or become part of in order to be visible in the community?

Then, as you go through your list, keep updating it. Stay in touch with people you’ve met. And keep meeting more people.

Is anyone actually taking any of the advice in this blog?

  • Is anyone actually taking any of the advice in this blog?

    Of course – but I don’t reply that often.

  • mk2003

    Well, I do read your advice and I try to apply your advice where I can. The problem I run into are of a practical form. Like for instance with this advice.. I would most probably get a big fat “HUH? What the hell do you mean and why do you want to know?” from my clients when I’d ask them something like “how can I help you with your goals”..

  • Is anyone actually taking any of the advice in this blog?

    I sure do, and some of your articles and blog posts have been proven very useful already. As a very young part-time self-employed web designer this blog is certainly a must read :)

  • NotThatBright

    Absolutely Andrew. While I haven’t started my business yet, I follow your blog daily to try and construct the connections and foundation so that when I do launch, I have a running start on even established competition.

  • Sure. Definately!

  • myrdhrin

    Hi Andrew,

    I sure am taking advice on this blog. More often than not I even take notes :-) I just don’t reply or post unless I really have something productive to say

  • aneitlich

    Okay, not fishing for compliments. Just checking whether this blog is making a contribution and that people are taking action based on the recommendations.

    Too many professionals prefer knowing over doing. They are smart, but not necessarily successful.

    You have to take right action in the right quantities.

  • Muskii

    “Connectors” eh. I knew they were important and I search them out but I didn’t know what to call them. Putting a name to them more importantly helps me to recognize them when they may appear in more unconventional formats.

  • Your blog definitely keeps me motivated, Andrew. My problem is that I’m trying to make the transition from a 9-5 to working for myself and that leads to problems like a lack of motivation at the end of the day and scheduling conflicts… I’d just leave the 9-5 if I could, but there’s that little issue of the mortgage and food…

  • Dano

    Andrew: “Too many professionals prefer knowing over doing. They are smart, but not necessarily successful.”

    I use to be one of them. I know that im an expert, and i work with experts who appreciate me. But i felt i was going too far to one only side: the theoretical expert.

    Since i read your blog and Synclair articles i thought that you took me to the earth again.

    Sometimes you write about basic things, and thats what i find great. I think i am (was) contaminated on theory.

    Now im trying to convince my partner to stop planning a bit and just DO IT. Its a very hard work. I think he is afraid about this change. I say: “we know what to do. Dont tell me what we HAVE TO DO. Tell me WHEN WE START.”

    Meanwhile, im moving. It feels good and i already have had some results.

    Thats my response to your question about your advice.

  • Thanks for clarifying the connectors, Andrew. After I left my 9-5 job last May, I did this exact thing – interviewed successful business owners and asked for advice. It opened doors for me. And you’re right, they are willing to tell you what they did successfully.

    One thing I did to connect with companies in my local area is to volunteer as the webmaster of an affiliate marketing association. In return, I would become a member of the association, connect with the different companies, and tailor my services for that industry. It was a win-win situation, although I get more than what I give.

  • kat

    I read your blog faithfully, but I do have a hard time with the implementation of your advice. Are there any books and/or software that you recommend in regard to goal setting and time management?

  • jruyle

    I read your blog and have it in my book marks. I appreciate the advice and help.

  • Is anyone actually taking any of the advice in this blog?

    Absolutely. I still refer to your e-book but I have yet again slipped into ‘all theory, no application’

    As Bruce Lee once said “Knowing is not enough we must apply. Willing is not enough we must do.”

    I for one must start heeding that advice again.

  • patrikG

    My parents, my sister and my girlfriend are on my must-know list. Apart from that no-one.

  • Clint Wilde

    I read the forums often. Please keep em coming!!

  • runsamok

    I’ve found that successful business coaches are natural connectors. After all, if they are doing their job well, they are making connections with business owners that take their advice to heart!

  • Although I’m not too deep in business yet I read your blog regularly and apply whatever I can. Thanks for all your useful advice :)

  • lukebyrne

    love your stuff, love sitepoint, best site on the web for web developers,

  • tiberik

    knowing who to talk to is crucial. But how do you actually, as a new starter, identify what industry is best to tackle and then pitch in?

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