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Summary: Reach Out: The Simple Strategy You Need to Expand Your Network and Increase Your Influence by Molly Beck

Whether looking to build a personal brand online, or looking for advancement in your job, you need a strong social network. “Reach Out” offers a strategy for strengthening ties with people you already know, reaching out to new people, and engaging in reciprocal relationships that can increase your influence. In this book summary, you’ll learn the simple steps to forming a daily routine that can strengthen your relationships in mere minutes a day.

Learn how to build a large social network — by strengthening the ties you already have.


  • Want to become an influencer in your field
  • Need to jump-start your social network
  • Only have a few minutes a day to build a personal brand


If you want to build a personal brand, start a new career or advance in your current job, or just make cool friends, you need to reach out to the people who can help you. Reaching out to strangers can be intimidating, and it’s easy to make a bad first impression. The Reach Out Strategy Plan is a step-by-step process for building a powerful social network starting with the people you already know.

There are four types of reaching out

  1. The re-reach out: contacting someone you already know or used to know to reconnect
  2. The follow-up: reaching out to someone you recently met in real life
  3. The borrowed connection: reaching out to someone beyond your social network, but who is connected to someone in your network. It can be a friend of a friend reach-out, or a reach-out after an introduction made in real life.
  4. The cool reach-out: reaching out to a stranger

Not all reach-outs will lead to a connection. Re-reachouts have about an 80% success rate, and cool reach-outs only around 25%. Molly Beck, founder of podcast creation site Messy Bun and creator of the lifestyle blog Smart, Pretty & Awkward, has created a method for maximizing the effectiveness of reach outs, and thus the power of your social network. In this summary, you’ll learn how to create your own Reach Out Strategy.

Book Summary: Reach Out - The Simple Strategy You Need to Expand Your Network and Increase Your Influence

Jump-Starting Your Digital Presence

In order to reach out, you need a digital presence to begin with. If you want to become an influencer with a professional digital brand, you need to start with some basics: an employer-friendly email address using an available version of your first and last names; an updated and reasonably complete LinkedIn page; and a presence on at least one social media platform such as Pinterest or Facebook.

Molly Beck grew her influence through blogging. Her site, Smart, Pretty & Awkward, was essential for getting jobs, getting press, creating media/blogging classes, and was even essential to publishing Reach Out itself.

She recommends a three-month plan: blog regularly about a topic of interest related to your expertise and influence for 90 days without telling anyone or promoting the site. When you have three months’ worth of public original thought, then you can begin promoting it (or you will have at least learned that blogging is not for you!). Perhaps it’s tweeting, writing a short ebook, or creating a Pinterest vision board.

When your digital presence is ready, it’s time to start reaching out, first with rereachouts and follow-ups. But what should you say when you reach out?

Love and Don’t Love Lists

Reaching out can be scary. To motivate yourself to reach out, create a pair of lists.

The Love List is a list of all the things you love in your current situation, and the Don’t Love List is a list of what needs improvement. Then brainstorm ways to incorporate love list items more completely into your life, and how to minimize the negative things.

From here, create goals for the next six months, and then determine who you can reach out to that can help you attain those goals. If you love the company you work for, but would like a better position, a good six-month goal would be to reach out to one co-worker a month for the next six months in order to strengthen your position at work.

Ready to Reach Out — Gifts and Favors

When you reach out, whether it’s to someone you already know, someone you have just met, or even a stranger, think about what gifts you can give. The secret to building a network is helping your targets and members of your network become more successful themselves, and your gifts can help.

Every reach out message should include at least two gifts: start with a compliment, and then offer something else from one of the following categories:

  1. a book or article recommendation
  2. knowledge you can share or something you can create
  3. a press opportunity
  4. free advice on a beneficial skill you have

Everyone loves receiving authentic compliments, and a book recommendation can be as easy as forwarding an Amazon or Scribd link as part of your note. Other gifts may take more effort, but can be more powerful.

Podcaster, writer, and musician Joey Held, for example, is also a gifted songwriter. He decided to write a song with lyrics about NBA players — and managed to drop the names of 72 players into his three-minute song. He reached out via Twitter to NBA TV host Trey Kerby, and ended up featured on Kerby’s blog. Traffic to Held’s song increased 600%. The gift of unique knowledge or ability made all the difference.

Press opportunities are a great gift; even very famous people are available for interviews and other promotional opportunities. You don’t have to have a platform as large as that of your target to get them in for a Q&A on your blog, for a niche publication, or other social media platform.

Free advice on a beneficial skill you have is a great gift, but remember that free advice isn’t the same as unsolicited advice. Offer advice in a way that makes it clear that it is a free gift, and that also gives the target the opportunity to say yes. “Let me know how I can be most helpful to you…” is an excellent phrase to put in your reach out email or message.

While every reach out should include at least two gifts, the request for a favor is optional. A reach out favor should be a request for information — specific information that cannot be found on Google, and that your target can answer in an email.

“Can you mentor me?” is a bad favor to ask, as it is a demand for an instant long-term relationship. “What jobs are open in your company?” is a bad question, as a web search can answer it.

Good favor questions include “What industry conferences do you think are the best to attend?” which works because you’re not just asking for a list of conferences, but an opinion. “What books have you read that you can recommend for me?” is great for the same reason.

As favors are essentially a request for personalized advice, reach out targets are often pleased, even complimented, to be asked for that favor. Cody Miles, a freelance marketer, reached out to sci-fi author Andy Weir and asked for advice on how to deal with a self-published author who wanted big results for his marketing dollar. Cody admitted that he had hit rock bottom. Weir got back to him in less than a day and explained that he had spend 10 years building up an email list before his breakthrough book The Martian was released — and he told Cody that the client was being unreasonable and should be dropped!

Reaching Out to Meet Your Goals

Reaching out is crucial for getting a new job, getting a promotion in your current job, expanding your business, or getting press attention. It can even help you make new friends.

When looking for a new job, for example, you can use the four types of reach out:

Re-reach outs:

  • Contact former co-workers who have themselves moved on to new jobs.
  • Reach out to people with whom you interviewed. Keep them up-to-date with a message every six months highlighting your latest achievements

Follow-up reach outs:

  • Attend industry conferences and other events, and connect to people you meet there by following them on social media.
  • Connect via LinkedIn with event speakers and administrators.

Borrowed connection reach-outs:

  • Chat (in a friendly, non-aggressive way) about your interests; friends and family may say, “Ah, you should meet my friend and talk to them!”
  • Former bosses and co-workers can hook you up with their social network. Your network can grow quickly this way!

Cool reach-outs (handle with care!)

  • Reach out to HR staff, hiring managers, and others at firms you want to work for. Sounds easy, but be cautious!

If you’re looking to climb the corporate flowchart in your current company, a rereach out may be as simple as sending an email to some colleagues you worked with on a project a year prior. After meeting colleagues in a meeting or an office party, drop them an email — there’s you, following up!

Take the initiative when your supervisor mentions an employee in another department whom you’ve not met yet; that borrowed connection reach out can mean a connection to a new ally or work friend. And in large firms, a company directory can be your key to connecting with one of the “rockstar” employees you otherwise would never meet.

If you’re building your own business, keep in mind the following reach outs:

Re-reach out:

  • Connect with former happy clients who may be in the market for the service you provide again.

Follow-up reach out:

  • Attend events for your target market, not just your industry events. If you’re in the pet supplies industry, go to where the pet owners are, not just where the pet shop owners are, and drop a line to the folks you meet at the dog park or cat fancier meeting a week or two later.

Borrowed connection reach out:

  • “Borrowed connection” is just another phrase for “referral.” A small referral fee for clients who bring in new customers, or even a thank you note, can be very powerful.

Cool reach out:

  • Cold calls, direct mailers, and the like are out. In is making social media work for you: Link to your business in your social media profiles, put “buy” buttons on the front page of your website or professional Facebook page, and highlight the services you provide to the customers you want to gain across all your messaging.

Finally, if your goal is digital brand building and a career as an influencer, you’ll need to get press coverage. Again, the four types of reach-out are crucial.

Re-reach out:

  • If you’ve ever been interviewed, quoted, or profiled, keep the names and email addresses handy. Every six months or so, make contact, especially if you’ve done something new or interesting.

Follow-up reach out:

  • Journalists, trade press, and freelance writers attend industry events and conferences. Cultivate relationships by reaching out afterward. Not every contact will lead to an article or a request for a quote, but keep at it. This is a longterm strategy.

Borrowed connection reach-out

  • Ask journalists and other members of the press themselves who else you could reach out to for coverage. Not all will want to share their contacts, but many will.

Cool reach out:

  • Pitch yourself with a personal reach out, targeted individually to the journalists you are pitching. Don’t forget the two gifts before asking for the one favor of press coverage!

Managing Your Reach Outs

Blogging or an up-to-date portfolio website, email reach outs written specifically to individual targets, and a social media platform with consistent messaging — it’s a lot of work! There will be days when reaching out works well: the gifts are accepted and appreciated, the favors asked for are performed and work well. Then there will be days when your email inbox is a dead letter office, and your tweets go unanswered and unliked. Here are some ways to keep from burning out on reaching out:

  • Reach out daily. If you send at least one reach out message every day, via email or social media or in-person communication, you’ll find the habit easier to form, and you won’t waste precious energy considering whether today is a good day to reach out. (Today is a good day to reach out.)
  • Front-load your reach outs. Take 45 minutes over the weekend, and figure out your five reach outs of the week. That means locating email addresses or social media handles, writing your reach outs, and having them ready to launch.
  • If front-loading isn’t for you, take a few minutes each day, preferably in the morning, to identify your target and write that day’s reach-out. That will take 8-10 minutes a day, five days a week.
  • Reach out during business hours, and midmorning is the best. That way you won’t be lost in the emails and messages that arrived overnight, and you won’t be competing against lunch, afternoon work, or the evening commute.


Nobody can reach their goals without the help of others, and if your goal is to be an influencer or to build a digital brand, reaching out to those in a position to help you — from customers to possible mentors and employers — is key. Reaching out, every weekday, and offering gifts and asking favors of information, is a way to strengthen social ties and build a large network.

Remember there are four types of reaching out

  1. The re-reach out: contacting someone you already know or used to know to reconnect
  2. The follow-up: reaching out to someone you recently met in real life
  3. The borrowed connection: reaching out to someone beyond your social network, but who is connected to someone in your network. It can be a friend of a friend reach-out, or a reach-out after an introduction made in real life.
  4. The cool reach-out: reaching out to a stranger

Who should you reach out to? The list is as endless as the reasons you have to reach out, but here are a few ideas:

  • A recently promoted co-worker
  • A blogger, podcast host, or author you admire
  • Former colleagues or supervisors
  • A leading figure in your field
  • A recruiter in your industry
  • Alumni board members from your college
  • Someone with your role in a complimentary field

One reach out every weekday for a year means 260 potential members of your social network. While reaching out is never 100% effective, assuming an average of 40% response rate means over 100 new people to talk to, every year. After a few months of reaching out and offering gifts and receiving favors, you may find yourself the target of reach outs from others. They may be people you already know, or people your own targets will introduce you to, or they may even come from out of the cold to pay you compliment, and then ask you a question that only you can answer.

And when you get that email, or tweet with your handle in it, remember to be joyful, and be responsive.

About Molly Beck

Molly Beck is the founder of podcast solution firm, and the daily advice blog Smart, Pretty & Awkward. Her writing has appeared in Parade Magazine and Daily Muse. Reach Out is her first book.


The book is a practical guide to building valuable career connections through tools you already have and people you already know. The author, Molly Beck, is a writer and podcast host who shares her own experiences and lessons learned from reaching out to strangers and influencers. She covers various topics, such as:

  • How to establish and strengthen your digital presence
  • How to develop career goals that reaching out can help you obtain
  • How to think strategically about who you have already met, who you could strengthen a relationship with, and who your current connections know
  • How to determine who to reach out to and push past common networking fears to do it
  • How to craft email and social media messages that get responses
  • How to optimize your efforts by managing your time and your inbox

The book is divided into four parts: The Basics, The Strategy, The Tactics, and The Follow-Up. Each part contains several chapters that offer step-by-step instructions, templates, examples, and exercises. The book also features personal stories on networking from some of today’s top thought leaders.

I found the book to be very informative and helpful. The author has a clear and friendly voice that makes the book easy and enjoyable to read. She also provides useful tips and examples that are relevant and realistic. I learned a lot about how to reach out to people and how to build meaningful relationships.

I think the book is suitable and timely for anyone who wants to learn more about networking and how to do it effectively. It helps us understand the benefits and challenges of reaching out, and how we can overcome them with confidence and creativity. It also reminds us of the importance of being generous, authentic, and respectful.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about reaching out and how to practice it. It is a well-written, well-researched, and well-presented book that will make you reach out more often and more successfully.

Alex Lim is a certified book reviewer and editor with over 10 years of experience in the publishing industry. He has reviewed hundreds of books for reputable magazines and websites, such as The New York Times, The Guardian, and Goodreads. Alex has a master’s degree in comparative literature from Harvard University and a PhD in literary criticism from Oxford University. He is also the author of several acclaimed books on literary theory and analysis, such as The Art of Reading and How to Write a Book Review. Alex lives in London, England with his wife and two children. You can contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Website | Twitter | Facebook

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