Branching Out- Networking for Success
You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with – Jim Rohn
I don’t recall the first time I heard the above quote, but it has stuck with me for quite some time now. I find a lot of truth in those words and I see examples of it all the time. Take a quick look around your life. Can you see those words reflecting your place in life and success?
Our last discussion talked about the need to build relationships with your customer base. Now it’s time to talk about the need to build relationships with your peers. If your goal is to build more success in your life, then you absolutely need to build more relationships in your life. When done correctly, networking becomes a critical link in the chain of successfully building a business.
WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT
Some people think networking is all about filling their Android/iPhone with a ton of contacts. The mindset is, If I have a phone number, I have a relationship. Others approach networking as a prospecting for sales. Still others thought it is all about boozing and schmoozing and being seen and known. All of which falls completely short.
Networking is all about building relationships that activates healthy growth both in your life and in theirs.
WHY IT'S SO IMPORTANT
Networking is like a key- it opens a lot of things. One thing it opens is your eyes. When you are rubbing elbows with people that are more successful or success oriented, you will see things that you would otherwise never see on your own. This enlightening may be the result of just plain ol’ observation, or it may come about because you asked a key question. Suddenly you see solutions or direction or innovations so clearly. Up to 70% of learning talks place through informal interactions. That’s why you want to be around people that are more successful than you.
Open doors of opportunity appear as a result of networking. Remember, we are talking about building relationships. When it comes time for our peers to partner up for projects or when they are looking for solutions, they will turn to the people that they know, like, and trust. If you are in their network, then you are more likely to be invited into that opportunity.
First off, network before you need it. This should not be a last ditch effort with panic in your eyes as you try to “make friends” with your targeted victim. Desperation has a smell and people don’t like it. So start now and grow those relationships.
Secondly have your eyes set upwards. I am not suggesting that some people have more value, but I am trying to make the point that there are tiers to success. Find those that have gone a little further beyond your place and start building relationships with those people.
The next thing is to be very intentional with your approach. Be a giver first. Gary Vaynerchuk wrote a book called Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook. It is a marketing book that has at its core the idea of give, give, give, then make the sale. The concept is true with networking. Give as much as you can and then they’ll “buy” in to you.
Also, don’t be afraid to pay for it. Sometimes a coach may be the best approach to networking. She can give you great business advice and will help you connect with people that are already doing what you are trying to do. A membership group may be another great resource for networking.
Lastly, be loose. Not everyone is a perfect fit. Don’t take it all personally and get bent out of shape if the person you are trying to reach out to rejects you. There are over 7 billion people on the planet. Know that there will be other people to you can reach out to.
TOOLS (WITH SOME EXPLANATIONS)
Here are a few tools and tactics to help you grow your network.
Start with reconnecting first. Studies show that dormant relationships— often overlooked or underutilized—can be a valuable source of knowledge and social capital. (Dormant Ties: The Value of Reconnecting) So get on Facebook and reach out to those underutilized relationships.
Email. This is an amazing tool for networking. Eric Barker wrote a great article- How To Make Your Life Better By Sending Five Simple Emails. As you implement his strategy, you are building a stronger network.
Starbucks. Okay, if you are a Starbucks hater, I get it. My point is a coffee shop. Coffee meetings has been called the Swiss Army knife of networking. It is low risk, inexpensive, and builds the opportunity for a stronger relationship.