Categorizing Contacts

Posted: - Modified: | connecting

Categorizing your contacts may make it easier for you to purposefully
deepen or expand your network. Here are some categories recommended in
“Make Your Contacts Count”, a good networking book written by Anne
Baber and Lynne Waymon.

Any person you meet outside a common context is an Accident.
People that you run into because of who you are and what you do are Acquaintances. They have something in common with you.
People you come in contact with on some regular bases for some period of time are Associates.
People with whom you exchange valuable information, resources, or leads are Actors.
People who promote you and whom you promote are Advocates.
People who are experts on you, your business, your career, your needs, your aspirations, and your vision are allies.

Three months of data should give me an idea of who I’ve talked to
recently. I searched my address book for all the people I had
contacted on or later than 2007.07.01 – 245 people. I quickly tagged
them with the categories. Using a quick Emacs Lisp snippet (see end of
this message), I summarized the results:

Accident 18
Acquaintance 80
Associate 32
Actor 50
Advocate 29
Ally 36

The categories are a bit fuzzy in this age of blogs and Facebook, and
I expect to adjust as I get to know people more (or less). Now that
I’ve categorized my contacts, I can plan to meet people more often or
to send out particular stories/blog entries.

Here are the book’s recommendations for deepening connections:

  • If you want more Associates, make strategic decisions about which organizations to join based on your career, business, and life goals
  • If you want to move from Associate to Actor, listen generously so that you can give ideas, resources, and referrals
  • If you want to move from Actor to Advocate, show your Character and Competence in everything you do and say.
  • If you want to be a strong Ally, respect confidentiality, tell the truth with caring, and support your Ally’s success in life and business.

What does your network look like?


  (lambda (s)
    (concat s " | "
             (apply '+
                     (lambda (r)
                       (if (member s (split-string (bbdb-record-getprop (car r) 'mail-alias)
                                                   ", "))
  '("accident" "acquaintance" "associate" "actor" "advocate" "ally")
;; The world belongs to people who can hack it. ;)

Random Emacs symbol: mouse-secondary-overlay – Variable: An overlay which records the current secondary selection.

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