Shepa Learning Company Blog

“Small Gifts” & Your Network

November 4th, 2015 by

Screen Shot 2015-10-30 at 3.24.54 PM

Most of us don’t spend much time thinking about our network–it’s just out there. And, if you think about what people in your network are thinking about–most likely it’s not you.

The best way to keep on the radar of people in your network is to find small ways to connect with them–what Reid Hoffman calls the “theory of small gifts*”. A thank you is a powerful gift–connecting with someone to sincerely thank them for something they’ve done (we don’t do enough of this!). Sometimes just acknowledging them on social networks is a ‘small gift’.

It may not always be possible, but can you add some value or make someone’s day better, when you reconnect?

Figure out the most effective way to reach out–digital or face-to-face?  We think a combination of both is the most effective.

Reaching out via your social networks:

  • ‘Like’ something on their Facebook page, Instagram, etc.
  • Follow them on Twitter
  • Retweet their Tweets
  • Use their hashtag and handle (example: @ShepaLearning)
  • Comment in all ‘social’ settings. Blog posts really don’t get many comments, so yours will stand out
  • Share articles, blog posts, events they are promoting with your network
  • Write a Recommendation for someone on LinkedIn. That’s incredibly powerful, and no it’s not the same as an Endorsement

Reaching out via email:

People may think this is kind of annoying–we all get too many emails–so send only information that you think is of real value to the recipient.

  • If you see an article they would find useful, pull a quote so they can see if they want to read more
  • If they posted an article, blog congratulate them, tell them what resonated with you
  • Give them a shout out if they won something, were in the news (in a good way)
  • Do something random, connect with someone who you haven’t connected with in ages: “How are you doing, I have been thinking about you.” Share a short update on yourself in this email

Reaching out by phone:

People are getting weird when they get a call ‘out of the blue’–Why are you calling me? People making the call also feel a bit uncomfortable, the days of a ‘little chit chat’ are gone. Here are the best ways to connect via phone:

  • If you are in a dialogue via email, then a phone call is often the easiest way to move the conversation along, plus people are just nicer and friendlier on the phone, there is some kind of connection
  • If it’s a business associate, book a time for a call, and contract for the amount of time they have
  • What the heck, pick up the phone and just call someone!


  • Be a connector!
  • Take someone to coffee, lunch or a drink
  • Invite them as a guest to an event you think they would enjoy
  • Create an event and invite a group of your colleagues, friends, associates. For example, if there is a wine tasting, put together a group and all go together (people are OK with paying their way)
  • With a group of your peers, invite a more senior person in your organization out to lunch (not as awkward, and more efficient for the senior person–gets to meet a group!)

Look for ways to help, and they might not even be about work. Find them a babysitter, suggest a good gym to join, or a great book you just read, and that you think would be helpful to them.  Make a real impression by buying the book for that person.

The Theory of Small Gifts:

“One way to help nurture good alliances is to provide early and explicit signs of your own commitment, showing people that you actually care about helping them. My name for this practice is the “theory of small gifts.” small ways to invest in a relationship and create more value for everyone, without expecting anything tangible in return.” — Reid Hoffman, Connections with Integrity

-Gayle Hallgren-Rezac, Judy Thomson and Darcy Rezac, authors of Work The Pond!  Shepa Learning Company


If you are reading this, and have not yet signed up for our free Positive Networking® Tips+, you can do so here.

Image: Gift box with lid by Karen Arnold from

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Simple Share Buttons
Simple Share Buttons