Sometimes it probably seems like I am saying the same thing over and over again but I try to add a new twist so that the information doesn’t get boring.
I often tell my clients that the key to building a successful business or to being successful in business is to network. It is not as much about what you know as who you know. Yeah, that kind of sucks but it’s true. So what are some keys to developing a successful network?
- Have a plan. You know I am all about planning. Before you go out making “friends” or business contacts, do an assessment of your organization and figure out who you need on your team. Be strategic about researching people before reaching out to do business with them. Just because someone looks good on paper or on the outside, it does not guarantee that they will be a good business fit for you.
- Create a triple layer network. You should always be looking for people who will work for you and your organization because it is necessary to keep them engaged to have a profitable business as well as those who buy your product/service. You need to network with your peers to stay abreast of industry trends and you can often benefit from cross referrals or shared resources. And you need to network with people who can serve as mentors and help create a road map of where you would like to see your business in the future. After all, why reinvent the wheel?
- Create mutually beneficial relationships. Whenever I prepare to ask someone for something, I always make sure that there is a benefit for them. It amazes me how often I am approached to participate in a project and through the entire conversation I am trying to figure out why I should participate, what’s in it for me (hint: it’s not always about money)?
- Become a center of influence. Use your networking powers for the good of mankind (lol, I couldn’t resist). When you see someone in need of a product or service, refer the person to someone in your network. No, doing so won’t make you any money but it will create two people who are appreciative and more likely to come through for you when you need something in the future. Delayed gratification can be just as satisfying.
- Always choose quality over quantity. I never imagined having over a thousand people following me on Twitter but I have been selective about the people who I follow back and I can honestly say that I interact on a regular basis with about ten percent of them. That may not sound like a lot but to engage in Twitter conversation with about a hundred people is doing a lot, trust me. The point is, I read profiles and make sure the people who I am following are people I want to engage with, that I feel as though we can have a mutually beneficially relationship and/or they can bring value to others in my network.
Networking isn’t as hard as it seems but I think a lot of times people consider it a passive activity and can’t see how it makes them money instantly so they take a passive position. Networking can be fun if you are engaging with the right kind of people, those with a common interest and common goals, both online and in person. Just don’t ever discount the “work” in networking.
Do you need a strategy to develop a successful network? Are you uncomfortable “putting yourself out there”? Contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) for a complimentary consultation to discuss your networking strategy. Trust me… I will motivate you to greatness 🙂