Many professionals haven't used a stack of index cards since high school or college. But those 4-by-6-inch cards aren't just for students cramming for exams.
They can also help you advance, according to best-selling author and career expert Jon Acuff.
As Acuff puts it, "Relationships get you the first gig." Knowing the right person could encourage you to learn a valuable skill, make a smart career change or even help you land a job interview.
In his new book "Do Over," Acuff describes how to get started: Grab a stack of index cards and a pen, and then answer the following questions. For each person you think of, write his or her name down on a separate card.
1. Who do I know who's smart about career issues?
Think of friends or family members who have done well in their careers and might be able to help you. Write down each of their names on a separate note card.
2. Who have I worked with?
Jot down the names of people who've worked closely with in the past several years. These colleagues should be ones whose names you still remember and who would likely remember you.
3. Who do I know who is influential?
Do you have a friend, neighbor or acquaintance who is notable in a particular industry? He or she may be able to introduce you to someone in the field you want to learn more about. Maybe your neighbor works in finance and could introduce you to someone in investment banking, for example.
4. Who do I know who owns a business?
"Business owners tend to know other business owners," Acuff writes. "And they know lots of customers."
5. Who do I follow online who is in my desired career space?
Who do you follow online that has your dream job? Who knows, maybe one of them will take you up on your offer for a quick coffee meeting to discuss career advice. It's worth trying to meet influential Twitter friends or LinkedIn connections in person.
6. Who else might be helpful or have an impact?
Give yourself a few extra minutes to mull over any other people you may know, Acuff says, because "we all tend to know more people than we really think."
After the exercise
Look over all of your note cards. Chances are you have brainstormed way more names than you thought you would.
Start asking some of these people to grab a quick coffee so you can learn about the career decisions they made or any advice they have, Acuff suggests.
The effort could help you make important changes in your career.
If you're looking for great ways to build relationships, check out 5 ways to network in 20 minutes or less