Less than 3 weeks ago my daughter, Emily, started a petition on Change.Org to free Meriam Ibrahim who has been imprisoned in Sudan after being sentenced to flogging and death unless she recants her Christian faith*. She was 8 months pregnant when she was arrested and has now given birth to a baby girl who is with her in prison along with her two-year-old son.
Today that petition has more than 750,000 signatures and Emily has been interviewed on local and national radio, written about in the press and mentioned on TV in this country and others including on the other side of the world in Australia.
Once she had set up the petition she sent messages to politicians, celebrities, journalists and business leaders, but none of them replied (until the petition was much bigger!) so that wasn't the way this spread.
How, then, did she get so many people to sign?
Read on below the picture.
She shared the petition with friends and family and asked them to share and support it. Unlike the 'names' her friends and family shared it and supported it and they asked their friends and family to do the same. Guess what? They did too and after 24 hours more than 5,000 had signed. After 2 days it was over 75,000 and that increased to 225,000 on day 6. You get the picture.
She didn't stop there though. She re-shared it with new information and ideas and again asked people to do the same. Some people will have missed it first time and some may have felt more aligned with one particular message or other.
It's a great example of how Word of Mouth really spreads. It's not about celebrity endorsement or people with a huge Twitter following, it's about engaging the people who know you best and then them doing the same.
This graphic from the Change.Org website illustrates it well:
The lesson for networking is to create something compelling in your business and to engage with the people who know you best by sharing stories that demonstrate the difference you are making and can make to others like them. You need to do this consistently with the people who know you best and ask them to share that with the people they know well.
* Meriam is the daughter of a Christian woman and Muslim man. She was raised Christian after her father left. Sudanese law mandates that children born to Muslim fathers are considered Muslim so she was charged with adultery on the grounds that her marriage to a Christian man from South Sudan is considered void under Shari’a law, for which the penalty is flogging. She’s also charged with apostasy, or abandonment of religion, for which the penalty is death.
In the last few days there have been conflicting reports about Meriam being released from the Sudanese Government and her representatives so keep the pressure on and please keep signing and sharing the petition at http://j.mp/saveMYI
If you would like to understand more about how to invest your networking time and get a better return visit the 8 blog series on How To Win More Business Through Networking