The “25 Technique”: How To Connect With Anyone and Advance In Your Career

How would you cold email Jennifer Aniston? (See below.)

Are you looking for a great job?

Want to meet key clients, investors, and advisors who can grow your business?

Maybe you just want to build your Rolodex *before* you need it.

There are 4 steps you can begin today to start meeting people the right way.

It starts with a weird practice I’ve developed…

1. Mind map your friends (Practice the “25 Technique”)

Here’s one sticking point for a lot of people:

“Who should I contact?”

“I don’t really know anyone.”

“I should start blogging or something.”

Let’s face it:

You know tons of bloggers and entrepreneurs by name. But they’ve never heard of you. So how do you figure out who’s accessible AND who can help you with key advice and introductions?

One habit I practice is the “25 Technique.” 

Here’s what you do:

Grab a sheet of paper. In the center, write down your wildest career ambition. It could be to publish a New York Times bestseller, get funding for your company, work on Hollywood film crews, whatever. Dream big and draw a circle around your goal.

You can also use a mindmap app.

From there, I’ll draw lines shooting out of my goal in the center, like branches on a tree.

On the branches, I brainstorm 25 names of people who can help connect me to my central goal, via advice, introductions, or first-hand experience.

Seriously, close Twitter and grab a notebook and a pen. You think you don’t know anyone until you map it out and see 2nd-degree connections everywhere.

To find great jobs and learn to master networking check out my People Skills course.

When I was living in Colombia, for example, I was just an anonymous reader of Maneesh Sethi’s popular blog, Hack the System. I knew I wanted to connect with Maneesh and learn more about his business.

Playing pick-up basketball with Maneesh.

Despite Maneesh’s frequent travels, I was able to connect via cold email, and we became fast friends.

If you’re REALLY not sure who can help you, look at your goal and think, “who’s already done this?”

LinkedIn is great for career goals. Search for people who already have your dream job, and jot down their names on branches.

2. Get in touch. Ask, W.I.I.F.E.?

Here’s where your psychology will make or break you.

Most people approach networking and wonder:

“What can this person give me!?”

This is exactly the WRONG approach.

You need to research some names from your 25. What are these people’s hopes, fears, and dreams? What gets them out of bed in the morning? What unique expertise or contacts can you offer to make their life easier, before you ask for a thing?

Always ask, WIIFE: What’s In It For ‘Em?

As a Hollywood correspondent, I had to constantly pitch busy celebrity publicists. I wanted to interview their clients, including Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston, and George Clooney. I’ve tested different pitches to connect with hard-to-reach people for over 20 years.

Hanging with Hugh Hefner before our interview I landed via Hugh’s agent.

One time, I contacted Ben Stiller’s publicist to request an interview with Stiller.

I could have emailed Stiller’s publicist like this:



I’d love to interview Ben Stiller for a piece with Loaded magazine. I’m available any time this Friday. Can you please put me in touch with Ben?

Thanks a ton!

James Swanwick

…and I would have failed.

Busy people get requests for favors all the time. Instead, I explained how I could help the publicist. My pitch, which landed the Stiller interview and propelled my career to new heights, went like this:

Hi (first name),


I would love to promote Ben Stiller’s new movie, Tropic Thunder, to a UK audience for you.

Loaded magazine has a readership of 1,000,000 in the UK, and an interview with Ben will sell tickets to European moviegoers, who might miss your other promo efforts.

May I schedule 20 minutes with Ben?

Thanks, (first name),

James Swanwick

When you approach busy people, what can you bring to the table? WIIFE?

With Maneesh, I first met him for coffee in Colombia and asked about his passion projects. People want to be understood. Even if you’re just starting out and don’t have a giant readership, you can always offer your curiosity to someone you genuinely admire.

Don’t keep score, but trust that when you help other people, people will want to help you in return. As one example, after I reached out to my mentor, Tai Lopez, he taught me how to speed-read a book a day. That’s a skill I will have for a lifetime and has already paid huge dividends in my business, relationships, and health.

My library full of books I speed-read, thanks to my mentor, Tai Lopez.
My library full of books I speed-read, thanks to my mentor, Tai Lopez.

3. Follow Up, and Set Yourself Apart

After my chat with Maneesh, I followed up via email. Thanking people for their time is good manners and is frankly neglected by most people today. Send a hand-written note to their office. Mail them a thoughtful gift. Show that you appreciate people sharing their time and expertise to help you.

I not only thanked Maneesh for our chat, but went a step further and emailed him PDF attachments of my personal Power Notes – summaries of books that I thought Maneesh would enjoy.

After your first meeting or phone call, continue to follow up with value. Reach out to them in service, and don’t keep score. Give without expectation.

The process is really this simple:

1. Mind map your connections (practice the “25 Technique”)
2. Reach out with the mindset, “WIIFE?”
3. Follow up, and set yourself apart

When you do this, people will want to help you in return. You will find that the goals in the center of your mind map becomes reality faster than you can imagine.

Opportunities Are Everywhere–But You Must Act

Did you see the viral story a while back about the hospice nurse who helped terminally ill patients? She compiled her insights from those conversations in a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.

Can you guess the #1 thing that haunts people? Here’s the top regret, via The Huffington Post:

I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

“This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled.

Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it.”


Remember this with all your work, not just in your career.

Do you have a written plan and a deadline to achieve something you really want? I’m certainly not here to tell you what to do, and I don’t have all the answers.

But if you feel empty in work that others expect you to do, well, maybe it’s time to craft a plan. Too many people live with regret from letting one unanswered phone call or inconvenience change the course of their future.

Take action and learn how to connect with anyone and advance in your career by CLICKING HERE.

Make things happen for yourself today. Drop what you’re doing and get started. Don’t wait.

  • Naomi Hattaway

    W.I.I.F.E. is brilliant! I’ve just mind-mapped one of my goals and you’re right – came up with 8 solid names right away!

  • Rana Campbell

    Great post, James!

  • B. Gayle McCord

    Just introduced to you and your work watching, ‘The Doctor’s’. I was impressed with your insight, wisdom, and advise.. Divorcing after 20 years of marriage has shaken me to my core. Being retired, my quest now is a personal journey, is to rebuild or reinvent me and my life to a higher plane…..better than before. Not an easy task for a 62 year old female in today’s society, but it’s up to me….to try. I believe, that your knowledge and expertise can help me, on this journey. An Internet search brought me to this site. I have read everything on this site and plan on downloading your book. This article along with others on this site definitely, inspire me. I am grateful to you, for sharing your mindset, your journey and your encouraging insight. Thank you,

    Appreciated your comment on ‘The Doctor’s, that in order to attract a top 10 man….you have to be a top 10 woman. I am not looking to remarry…but I do want to become the best version of me that I can be…..and associate with like mined people that inspire me in my pursuit. I just got to find them….with the mindset W.I.I.F.E. (lol)

    • James Swanwick

      Thank you for your kind words, Gayle. Rebuilding and reinventing is a great plan! Change is good. Regarding dating, check out and follow me on my podcast. Go get ’em!

      • B. Gayle McCord

        Very kind of you to that the time to reply. I found the site with all your podcasts, which I am watching. Dating? Not there, yet. I might contact you in the future for coaching sessions on just rebuilding my life in general. I believe that you would be a great motivator and help steer me in the right direction. Do you you conduct any small group life skills workshops? What are your fees for online life personal coaching? I am very interested in both.

  • Eddie Van Buskirk

    I like the 25 technique. I think it is a different approach that a lot of people are not talking. In the Tipping Point they talk about most people that get jobs from a referral are “weak” connections, people we do not spend time with on a daily basis. We have the same group of connections we spend a lot of time with that is why the weak connections are so important. I think that is what you are talking about with this technique.

    I have been hand writing thank you notes for a long time. No one does it so it sets you apart from everyone else.

    James I have been without alcohol for over thirty days. I started it before I knew who you where but while I was researching the benefits of not drinking I stumbled on to your page.