Who’s The Tom Hanks In Your Network?

Tom Hanks has appeared in over 80 movies, which have grossed more than $9 billion worldwide. He’s won two Oscars, along with a host of other awards. And thanks to his work not only as an actor but a producer, he has a lot of respect and influence in Hollywood.

He’s definitely on the A List.

By comparison, actors like Toby Maguire, Ashton Kutcher, Willem Defoe have maybe, at the high point of their careers, made the B List, but now appear much further down the alphabet.

Now imagine you’re an aspiring actor looking for your big break and you’ve managed to wangle and invitation to a party where all four of those actors will be attending.

Who are you going to try and get in front of and get yourself noticed?

If you’ve any sense, you’ll make a beeline for Tom Hanks. After all, he’s an A Lister and, if you make a great impression, he might just take it upon himself to help you.

If you’ve got extra time after schmoozing him, it would still be a good idea to have a conversation with Toby, Ashton or Willem…but it shouldn’t be your priority.

Now translate that to your actual career or business.

You may not be looking for a screen test for the latest blockbuster, but I’ll hazard a guess that you have aspirations: getting a new job, landing a promotion, getting buy-in from your team, bagging a new client.

If that’s the case, you need to be working out who appears on your own A List: the people who, if they’re buying into your personal brand, can make that aspiration into a reality.

Once you know who they are, focus on them. Make them your key audience. Spend time getting in front of them. Spend even more time keeping in touch with them. And – most importantly – don’t waste too much time on the B List or C List.

Tried and tested

It’s something I put into practice in my many years running press offices and dealing with the media. I had a list of 70 – 80 journalists who were all relevant to my sector – national newspaper editors, consumer magazine writers, trade paper journalists, radio and TV presenters and reporters on local papers – but within that list I mentally split them into my A List, B List and C List.

I’d focus most of my time on the first group, a decent chunk of time on the second group, and try to touch base with the third group as and when I could. That way, the effort going got the maximum benefit out.

It seems obvious, but why don’t more people do it?

As the author and influence trainer Colin Gautrey says, “Most people waste far too much time engaging with the wrong stakeholders.”

So what can you do about it? Well, Colin recommends using this quick process to highlight where you should be investing your time to get the biggest payback.

  1. List all your stakeholders (for a given piece of work/project etc).
  2. Score each out of 3 (high) based on their potential to impact your project (either for or against).
  3. Score each out of 3 (high) based on how much benefit they will gain when you succeed.
  4. Multiply the two scores.
  5. Put 90% of your effort into the top third (or maybe, just the top 3 stakeholders!)
  6. Ignore the bottom third unless they really complain.
  7. Place the middle third on “care and maintenance”.

As he himself says, it’s simple and common sense…but when was the last time you sat down and worked out who your Tom Hanks is?

How do you spend time engaging with your stakeholders? What do you do to focus on the important ones? Do you have any tips or comments to share? There’s a box below just waiting for your thoughts. Thank you!

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