When I lost my job, I felt like I lost every­thing. But I had­n’t. Here’s how I built a net­work that helped me rebound even stronger.

4 min read

This sto­ry appears in the
Octo­ber 2019

issue of
Entre­pre­neur. Sub­scribe »

In 2018, I had my dream gig: I host­ed a pod­cast that reached mil­lions of lis­ten­ers and gave me access to the world’s most inspir­ing entre­pre­neurs. Then my rela­tion­ship with my busi­ness part­ners fell apart, and they emailed me to say I was fired. With that, I lost my liveli­hood, my call­ing, and my very sense of iden­ti­ty.

For weeks, I sat on my couch dream­ing up ways to reclaim my show. But I couldn’t; it was gone. Then I real­ized there was some­thing I hadn’t lost: my rela­tion­ships! I’d met incred­i­ble peo­ple through­out my career. And as I reached out to them, they’d become the insur­ance pol­i­cy I didn’t even know I had — an insur­ance pol­i­cy that would save me when I need­ed it most.

In turn, these peo­ple made me real­ize the full pow­er of rela­tion­ships and the impor­tance of cul­ti­vat­ing them.

Relat­ed: 6 Easy Steps to Mak­ing Con­nec­tions That Make Mon­ey and Cre­ate Hap­pi­ness

At first, after being fired, I didn’t entire­ly know what to say to my net­work. I set­tled on total open­ness, because what I need­ed most was guid­ance. In dozens of emails and phone calls, I told friends and col­leagues about my trou­bles. In return, they gave me sup­port and per­spec­tive. One of my men­tors, a broad­cast­ing vet­er­an, helped me see that if I’d been suc­cess­ful once, I could do it again — and more quick­ly this time. Anoth­er close friend, a ser­i­al entre­pre­neur, encour­aged me to move on rather than spend­ing time and ener­gy recov­er­ing what I’d had.

I took their words to heart and decid­ed to launch a new pod­cast. (It’s called The Jor­dan Har­bin­ger Show, and it explores psy­chol­o­gy, suc­cess, and entre­pre­neur­ship.) I’d need to rebuild my entire brand, audi­ence, and infra­struc­ture — with no start­up cap­i­tal. So again, I turned to my net­work. Now I need­ed their help.

That didn’t come easy; ask­ing for help has always made me feel needy and bur­den­some. But I came up with spe­cif­ic requests for spe­cif­ic peo­ple, and I was blown away by the response. Peers lent me their cus­tomer ser­vice and mar­ket­ing staffs. Friends spread the word about my new show. I real­ized that ask­ing for help is a pro­found, essen­tial act of vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty. It made my rela­tion­ships deep­er and more mean­ing­ful. We were all in this togeth­er. And the results were amaz­ing: With my network’s help, the new show quick­ly rose in the pod­cast charts. We now enjoy six mil­lion down­loads per month, gen­er­at­ing a sev­en-fig­ure rev­enue.

The expe­ri­ence made me reflect on some­thing an old col­league said. He described net­work­ing as “dig­ging the well before you’re thirsty” — that is, con­stant­ly cul­ti­vat­ing trust and loy­al­ty with the peo­ple around you, with no imme­di­ate expec­ta­tion of return. I’d done a ver­sion of this in my career, though nev­er strate­gi­cal­ly. Now I under­stood its full val­ue and decid­ed to dou­ble down.

Relat­ed: How to Be a More Lik­able and Charis­mat­ic Leader

I cre­at­ed a sys­tem I call Con­nect Four. Every day, I text four peo­ple from the bot­tom of my text mes­sage inbox to recon­nect. “Hey! Been a while,” I’ll write. “What’s the lat­est with you?” We rekin­dle our con­nec­tion, and I try to spot an oppor­tu­ni­ty to be of ser­vice. For exam­ple, I recent­ly intro­duced a tal­ent­ed free­lance writer to an investor friend who’s plan­ning a book, and I con­nect­ed two new­ly engaged friends to the best wed­ding plan­ner I know.

To stay on top of my com­mu­ni­ca­tion, I use a CRM called Con­tac­tu­al­ly. It’s made for real estate agents, but I find it use­ful. Tools like this help me track my emails, fol­low-ups, and sched­uled con­ver­sa­tions, so I can fol­low through on my com­mit­ments over long peri­ods of time. That might sound like overkill, but once I learned how impor­tant con­sis­ten­cy and breadth were in my rela­tion­ship build­ing, I real­ized I’d need to imple­ment strong process­es to man­age it.

Now, with these habits, I’m con­stant­ly engag­ing and expand­ing my net­work. I think of it as a pre­mi­um I pay (and that I love to pay!) for my insur­ance pol­i­cy today. It’ll help me in ways I can’t pos­si­bly imag­ine tomor­row.

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