Business People photo from ShutterstockYour connections begin in your own database. When I’m asked about how to “own your game”, or dominate your niche, the first place I begin asking about is what do you know about your database?

Even those born within this last minute, already have a handful of people in their personal database. From the mother that carried them, to the physician that delivered them, to the nurses in the delivery room, the pediatrician and the nurses in the nursery – the newborn even know somebody!

How can you make the most of who you are already connected to?

First, clean your list. Start going through to see whose email, phone number, cell phone, address, and employment information is up-to-date and who is not. Your first focus is to make sure you have the most current, effective information for those people who already know you.

Second, grade your list. No, I’m not talking about judging people yet I am talking about categorizing them in a way that makes sense for you. Who really knows you well? I mean they have spoken positively on your behalf, they know your hopes, dreams and aspirations. They may even know the good, the bad and the ugly!  They know you. They know what you do for a living. How many close contacts can actually say that? Often we’re connected with those who “kind of, sort of” know what we do so they could never repeat it to anyone or effectively explain it or even speak to a prospective employer or prospect about how you can help them.

Start first with those who really know you well. And, then work through your list seeing who you really know. Again, use the same criteria.- do you know their hopes, dreams and aspirations? Do you know their strengths? Do you know what they really do for a living (not just their title)?

Third, of those who really know you – what gaps do you see in the information you have on them? Maybe you don’t even know if they’re currently married, divorced or single. Maybe you don’t know where they graduated from?  Or, you might have their work number yet you don’t have their email address or cell phone number. Focus on where you have gaps and make  a plan on garnering some of that information.  It might be that you’ll find out at the next ball game or happy hour get together. Whenever it is, make sure that you flow your information gathering into the conversation and not sound like you’re going through a checklist. To do so, would surely shut down conversation.

Lastly, who on that list really supports you? They have been “your brand advocate” all along. They cheer you on and sing your praises! Do any of them fall in the following categories?

  • People who have mentored you?
  • People you have mentored or taught?
  • Former managers, supervisors or instructors?
  • And, yes, even co-workers?

These are the foundation of your brand advocates and you must identify them first to own your connections.