What is Content-Based Networking?

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There’s a reason everyone says “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” 

If you’re striving to reach ambitious goals, it’s impossible without the right relationships.

Maybe you’re an entrepreneur looking to raise capital. Maybe you’re a VP of Marketing that needs to drive revenue for your company. Maybe you’re a recent graduate looking for your first professional job after college. 

Regardless of your career stage or the goal you’re trying to achieve, one thing is guaranteed: relationships are critical.

So how can an entrepreneur develop relationships with investors? How can a marketing leader develop relationships with decision-makers at their company’s target accounts? How can a recent college graduate develop relationships with the hiring managers at the best places to work in their city?

The answer is content-based networking.

Content-based networking allows you to reverse-engineer relationships with the exact people you want to know.

Instead of relying on chance encounters and random in-person events, content-based networking allows you to connect with anyone, at any time, and from anywhere in the world.

Content-based networking can be boiled down to 3 simple steps:

  1. Get clarity around your goal.
  2. Figure out the types of people who can help you achieve that goal.
  3. Create content with those people.

[RELATED: We wrote an entire book about it — Content-Based Networking: How to Instantly Connect with Anyone You Want to Know]

Let’s look a little closer at these steps.

1. Get clarity around your goal.

Content-based networking can work for literally anyone: college students, business leaders, aspiring actors, stay-at-home parents, authors — anyone.

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Anyone.

You just have to get clarity around what you want. What’s your goal? What do you want to achieve?

Define Your Goal

When I started Sweet Fish in 2015, my goal was crystal clear: Get customers. 

Maybe your goal is to raise capital. Maybe it’s to recruit a world-class team. Maybe it’s to become the greatest spouse or parent of all time.

Pro Tip: Most of us are sitting in the passenger seat of our own life — sitting back and hoping for a relationship that can impact our lives. Whatever you want to achieve, turn it into a clear and concise goal.

Take these, for example:

  • In the next 5 years, I want to own a Mexican restaurant in Denver, CO.
  • I want to be self-employed, earning $60,000/yr, in the next 18 months.
  • Next quarter, I want our company to hit $350k in monthly recurring revenue.
  • I want to land 3 acting jobs in the next 12 months.

Write your goal down, make it known, and ask for some accountability. No matter what, have it clearly defined.

SMART Goals

When you’re setting a goal, make sure it’s SMART:

Specific – What will be accomplished? What actions will you take?
Measurable – What data will measure the goal? (How much? How well?
Achievable – Is the goal doable? Do you have the necessary skills and resources?
Relevant – How does the goal align with broader goals? Why is the result important?
Time-bound – What is the time frame for accomplishing the goal?

2. Figure out who can help you achieve your goal.

Content-based networking is focused on building genuine and meaningful relationships — it’s not about using people. 

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Think about the types of people who can help you achieve your goal and the value you can bring to them. We can proactively and intentionally create the relationships in our lives that launch us towards the future we want for ourselves.

When I started Sweet Fish, my goal was to get customers. With that goal in mind, I then had to figure out the exact type of person that would buy our service. 

After lots of trial and error, I eventually figured out that the exact people I needed to build relationships with were VPs of Marketing (not CMOs) at B2B companies with 50-500 employees

Example

Let’s say that you’re an actor or actress, and that your goal is to land 3 paid acting jobs in the next 12 months.

Who are the specific people that can help you achieve that goal?

  • Casting directors in your city
  • Independent filmmakers
  • Producers
  • Owners of local video production companies

The list could go on and on, but I think you get the idea.

3. Create content with those people.

This is where the two-way value really comes into play. It’s time to ask your ideal relationships to create content with you.

Two-Way Value

By asking your ideal relationships to create content with you, there are benefits for each of you. 

When I ask VPs of Marketing to be a guest on our podcast (B2B Growth), they benefit by… 

  • Exposure to our audience of B2B Growth podcast subscribers.
  • Getting a well-produced piece of content they can share with their audience, their boss, or the hiring manager for a future job opportunity.
  • The opportunity to sharpen and refine their thinking around a particular idea.
  • Looking like an industry genius.
  • Being seen by a wider audience (because we repurpose the interview into lots of different kinds of content).
  • Meeting me, of course 😉 (jk)

In turn, I benefit from… 

  • Insightful content that my audience cares about.
  • The wisdom and insights from my guests.
  • Creating genuine friendships with decision-makers at companies that could potentially buy from us.

[RELATED: 3 Tips You MUST Know Before You Start a Business Podcast]

Podcasting

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My preferred method of collaborative content is a podcast, mainly because it’s so versatile. Here are a few reasons why:

  • It’s conversational. You’re literally creating content by simply having a conversation.
  • You can record the podcast on Zoom to capture video content as well (the videos end up being great micro content for LinkedIn).
  • There’s virtually no friction involved with consuming a podcast. Our audience can listen while they’re driving, washing dishes, working out, or even going for their daily recommended quarantine stroll.
  • 80% of listeners consume all or most of each podcast episode. (90-second videos have a completion rate of only 59%.)

We’re creating genuine relationships with our guests who could potentially buy from us while simultaneously creating valuable content that the rest of our market wants to hear.

Go farther together.

To meet anyone and build relationships that can propel you (or your company) toward your goals, keep the 3-step process of content-based networking in mind:

  1. Get clarity around your goal.
  2. Figure out the types of people who can help you achieve your goal.
  3. Create content with those people.

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

African Proverb

Ready to start a podcast? Let’s chat. 🙂

James Carbary

Founder at Sweet Fish Media

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