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Three Networking Lessons From “A Human API”

Jon Itkin
February 8, 2022
 Three Networking Lessons From “A Human API”

Calling Julie Trell a superconnector doesn’t do her justice. 

As her LinkedIn profile says, she’s a self-professed human API. A relentless, always-on machine constantly thinking about the people she knows who should know each other, but don’t—yet.

Across a 25-plus year career spanning, classroom teaching,  corporate philanthropy, startup acceleration, social impact innovation, Julie has cultivated a vast network of connections. The depth and quality of Julie’s relationships is a big reason why she’s the first Connect The Dots user to achieve a network score of 100—making her the best-connected person on the platform. 

(Network scores are calculated based on several factors, considering both the quantity and quality of a person’s relationships relative to other Connect The Dots users.)

For Julie, networking isn’t just a passion. It’s a purpose. Helping people and teams make connections has been a key aspect of her roles as a head of a startup accelerator advisor, coach, and consultant. By her estimation, she’s made hundreds of successful introductions.

Along the way, Julie learned some invaluable lessons about networking that anyone looking to build a business or career could benefit from. She goes into detail about many of them in posts like this one, which I strongly recommend.

I caught up with Julie via video call recently (from her fantastic apartment in Sydney), and she graciously shared some networking wisdom that I’ll summarize here.

Start from a place of faith

Julie shared a story about bringing a cohort of Australian entrepreneurs to San Francisco for a week of meet-and-greets, and how surprised her Aussie colleagues were that nearly everyone they met was willing to make introductions for them. 

It simply hadn’t occurred to them to ask for help. Julie has a strong belief that people want to help each other, and a well-crafted, thoughtfully delivered request for help almost always gets a yes. But if you don’t ask for help, you certainly won’t get it. And if you don’t believe that others are interested in helping you, you won’t ask. 

When in doubt, take the plunge and ask. It’s highly likely that people will want to help.

Never ask for introductions blindly

Julie estimates that nine times out of ten, when she reaches out to ask if a person will accept an introduction, she gets a yes. That’s not just good luck or a reflection on her great relationships. It’s because Julie takes the time to make each request customized, personal, deliberate, and specific. 

Julie does advance research and thinks through concrete, compelling reasons why the person receiving the request should say yes. There’s no magic formula. Just an understanding of what that person is trying to accomplish and how the other person in the equation can help (along with a high degree of respect for everyone’s precious time).

Usually, this only requires a quick Google search or scrolling through a person’s LinkedIn page or Twitter feed.

Always follow up

People are busy and often gloss over even the most relevant, interesting introduction requests. If Julie doesn’t hear back from someone she’s reached out to, she always follows up, politely. It works. Don’t be shy about bumping up a message in someone’s inbox. 

Authenticity above all

Julie’s top piece of advice for anyone looking to build their connections is to be real about who they are and why they’re interested. Be honest, share your enthusiasm and reveal your humanity. The professional world is choked with stuffy, uncomfortable connection requests. Find a way to be your colorful self in your communications, and they will be received much more warmly. 

Julie Trell is a Corporate Play Enabler & Human API with Indigital Edutech, Country Lead for SheEO, a participant in the Airtree Explorer program, and Founder & Chief Play Officer of Playful Purpose. She’s based in Sydney Australia. Follow her on Twitter at @julietrell


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