Assessing Your Network Asset

Once you realize that networking builds value in your life, the natural reaction is, “How much value do I have?”

Certainly, this is not as simple as counting change or tallying hours worked. And while there are complicated formulas for assessing one’s social capital, there are three rather simplistic means of making a thumbnail measurement. Let’s touch on each of these.

Assessment #1 is Connectivity. Answer this, “Who do I know?” Stop and think about it. Take an inventory of the people you know. High School. College. Neighbors. Community. Church. The gym. And the list goes on. You likely know lots of people, and as you meet more your social capital grows.

Assessment #2 is Density. Think about it. If you knew ten people and those ten people all knew each other, your network is so dense (or interconnected) that the social capital is nowhere near as great as if you knew ten people and none of those people knew each other. So it is not just how many people you know that is important, but how many of those people know each other. Certainly, it is not reasonable to think that no one in your network knows anyone else, but you do want to have a broad, diverse network where you know lots of people and they are relatively disconnected from one another.

Assessment #3 is Potential. It is important how many people you know. And it is important how many of those people you know, know each other. But another means of assessing your network is to look through the people you know and see the people they know that you do not currently know. If you know ten people and they have relatively poor networks themselves, you are worse off than if you know only five people, but those five are extremely well connected.

Take a moment now and then to assess the value of your network. In these moments, ask yourself, “How can I increase my network Connectivity, lessen its Density, as well as enhance its Potential?”

Your Networking Creates An Asset

Your life is comprised of various assets. There is physical capital such as money, investments, homes, cars and other belongings. There is human capital, such as your ability to work, think and do things. And there is social capital, which the invisible benefit that your network provides.

Know this, when you network, it is not an expense of your time. Do not think of it in those terms. Certainly some networking is more productive than others, but understand that any networking is an investment.

  • Prospecting: An Investment.
  • Attending An Event: An Investment.
  • Volunteering: An Investment.
  • Socializing: An Investment.

Think about networking as a component of building your personal wealth. When you network, you build value in your life. So get out and network. As you do, feel as if your net worth is growing… because it is.

The Proper Networking Mindset

 

It is vital that you understand three recurring networking themes:

  1. The Golden Rule of Networking
  2. Know, Like and Trust
  3. Every Contact Has Opportunity

Beyond these, however, you also need to have the correct networking mindset, as attitude is everything:

•  Believe It Works … Whether you believe networking will work or you don’t, you are going to be right. If you believe in it, you will conduct yourself with confidence and that will draw people to you. If you are skeptical of the activity or its potential, that will serve to repel people from you. Thus, BELIEVE!

•  You Network Well … Remember: Everything you do is networking… Everything you have ever achieved has involved networking … Everywhere you go is networking … Everyone you interact with involves networking. KNOW THIS … You are much better at networking than you likely give yourself credit.

•  Be Of The Right Mind … Not every day is going to be a good day. As such, if you are not in the right frame of mind (and cannot get there), save your networking for another day … stay home … off the phone … away from e-mail.

In life, attitude is everything. The same is true in networking. Before you network, get the right attitude.

Networking: Three Recurring (and vital) Themes

Networking is nothing new. In fact, it has been studied for years. As such, there are recurring themes within it. If you understand these three concepts, you will be ahead of the vast majority of the working population.

The Golden Rule of Networking: This rule states that effective networking is about giving to others first (with no expectation of any return) and simply hoping that things will come back to you. Your entire networking existence should be about finding ways to help or give to others … referrals, businesses, contacts, information, encouragement, your time … give, give, give. Trust me, it will come back to you.

The Quintessential Elements Of Networking Relationships: All things being equal, we do business with people we Know, Like, and Trust. In fact, all things being unequal, we still do things with those we Know, Like, and Trust. So everything you do involving others needs to center on you getting to KNOW them (and not necessarily them you) … you being perceived as LIKABLE to them … and you conducting yourself so they feel they can TRUST you.

Every Contact Has Opportunity: We are all a little guilty of this: Dismissing someone as not being of consequence to us. Know this, however, while everyone may not be your next employer or key business contact, everyone is somehow connected to one (directly or indirectly). Thus, treat everyone as if they have that potential and eventually good things will follow.

Understand (and really think about) these themes. They are important, as they serve the foundation upon which all effective networking activity is built.

Networking: What Is It, Really?

Networking Works. It may not work exactly how you want … It may not work exactly when you want … It may not work exactly where you want. But it works.

The first step to making it work for you, however, is understanding what it really is. A working definition for networking is:

  • Two or more people working towards their mutual benefit.

Networking is helping and being helped by others, and nothing more.

Given that definition, the universe of potential networking is very broad. The universe does include prospecting and selling, but it is much bigger than that. It also includes, servicing clients, attending events, volunteering, and even socializing.

In fact, successful networking is something you need to focus on every waking moment. It is not something born out of the 80s, 90s or new millennium… It has been part of life since the human existence.

It has been part of everything in your life. Not just finding jobs or getting clients, more than getting promotions. It is also (but not limited to) finding a golf league, spouse, and babysitter (and not always in that order). Networking is nothing more than humans interacting and somehow working together to survive and prosper.

Social Media Success

There are three important steps to success on social media. There is no magic. There are no secret formulas or short cuts. The key is to follow these three important steps.

1. Get Started (or expand your usage to be more effective)

2. Make time to take a little action each day

3. Commit to keeping after it

Admittedly, when it comes to social media there is a lot there and much to master and learn. There is nothing, however, that says you need to climb the learning curve in one day, one month or even one year. Even the most proficient users of social media find that they are continually learning new things.

Besides, no one is judging you on your proficiency using social media. They are only judging you on the value you bring to the network.

A Daily Dose Of Social Media

To successfully engage yourself in social media (this immensely-large, continuously running and information-rich networking event), you only need to devote about 100 hours per year to it.

Now, when you put it that way, the task seems insurmountable. Here is the reality, however: This translates to only about 20 minutes a day or a couple hours scattered over the course of a week. That does not seem so bad.

  • In the morning, when you are enjoying a cup of coffee, you might tinker with your profile.
  • Another day, you take a mid-morning break and interact within one of the groups you’ve joined.
  • Then, at some point during the week, while you are waiting for dinner to warm up (or arrive) you jump into a discussion or answer a question.
  • Finally, when there is a break in the action from the big game you are watching, Share An Update.

It is important to note that there are websites and applications available that will empower you to be more effective interacting and sharing information. While those are beyond the scope of this program, a quick search online and you will find plenty.

LinkedIn Active Use 4 of 4

The final active use of LinkedIn is taking advantage of the “Share An Update” feature, where you can report what you are doing, what’s on your mind, or what you would like others to know.

Found on your LinkedIn home page, this is an underutilized feature that can be used in one of three general ways.

Mini Press Release: Imagine having a publicist. Someone who tracked your every move and reported it to the world like some Hollywood star. Well, with LinkedIn, you can. Using the Share An Update feature you can share on your profile the things you are doing. This can enlighten others on your activity (personally or professionally) … Who you know … What you are working on.

Add Value: As we discussed earlier, adding value is important whether you are networking in a traditional manner or via LinkedIn. People simply want to associate with those that have something to offer – it is purely human nature. Using the Share An Update, you can provide value to your LinkedIn network by offering information, sharing insight or simply making alerts.

Evoke Discussion: Finally, just like contributing content, you can use the Share An Update feature to gain information quickly or simply engage your network. This activity creates interaction and interaction generally leads to value. So think about engaging your online network by asking a question, soliciting feedback, or creating a forum for discussion.

LinkedIn Active Use 3 of 4

The third active use of LinkedIn is to add value by contributing content. Think for a moment as to how you might conduct yourself at a traditional networking event. You stand around talking with people. You start discussions and you contribute to discussions that others have started. You answer questions that others ask and you ask questions that you look for others to answer. LinkedIn provides this same opportunity for its users.

If you go into any of the groups you have joined, you will see that there are usually numerous discussion going on. Jump in and add value.

This does NOT mean pitch yourself or product. It means share an opinion or insight. Offer a solution to a problem. Share your experience as it relates to the discussion.

In networking (whether traditional networking or online), adding value in this manner is critical to keeping you on the minds of others. People want to associate with those who add value, as they cannot help knowing, liking and trusting you.

LinkedIn Active Use 2 of 4

Being Active on LinkedIn is key. From time to time, however, people are reluctant to do anything on social media simply because they feel woefully behind. They say or think, “I have not done anything on LinkedIn and so I am connected to so few people. What is the point of doing anything now?”

Embarking on LinkedIn can seem daunting, especially when you see what others have achieved in terms of connections, activity and traction. It is easy to have that “I will never catch up” feeling.

Do not despair. There is a quick and easy way of becoming networked on LinkedIn. The second active use of LinkedIn is to take advantage of groups.

Again, social media is nothing more than a giant networking event. Imagine that within this immense, continually-running and information rich event, there are rooms off to the side. Within these rooms are people who all have a common bond or interest.

For some, it is the fact that they are all involved in small business or a particular company. For others, it is based on where they live or went to college. And for others it is just a general interest, such as marketing, engineering or accounting.

For the most part, these groups are highly welcoming and continually interested in new members. So find a group or groups that interest you and sign in. And if you cannot find a group that you would like to be part of, LinkedIn allows you to create a group and start to grow it.

Here are a couple neat things about groups.

First, normally on LinkedIn, you can only invite to connect those that you already know somehow, some way. So if you are just getting started and only have a few (if any) connections, you might feel as if there is no way (or no one to turn to) to get additional connections. Once you are admitted to a group you are able to invite to connect people who are within the group. So get into a group and seek out interesting people to connect with.

Second, normally on LinkedIn you are only permitted to communicate with the people you are directly connected to. So, again, if you have few connections, you have few people to communicate with. Once in a group, however, you are able to directly communicate with all the people within that group.

So joining or starting groups and then interacting within them is a powerful active use of social media.