Creating Solid Networking Relationships

We create solid relationships with people in our lives when we set about to make three things happen. This can be distilled down into three simple words: Know, Like & Trust.

You build relationships when people get to know you and you get to know them. You build relationships when you get the people you know to like you. And you build relationships when you do the things that allow other people to trust you.

Here is a simple reality – people do business with people they Know, Like & Trust. You do business with people you Know, Like & Trust. All things being equal, you will do business with someone you Know, Like & Trust.

You likely have the accountant, banker, or financial planner in your life because, all things being equal, you Know, Like & Trust them. In fact, all things being UNequal, you would still opt to do business with the person you Know, Like, & Trust. Think about it. If you have automobile insurance, there is no question you could find the same coverage for less. Yet, you stay with the same agent. Why? You Know, Like & Trust that person.

Know, Like & Trust is a powerful component of human nature. If you can get people coming to the conclusion that they Know, Like & Trust you (this is at a very gut level), they will more likely be moved to help you … refer you clients … introduce you to centers of influence … direct you towards beneficial opportunities.

Networking: Is It More Than Just Finding People?

“It’s Not What You Know, But Who You Know.” Chances are you’ve heard that once or twice in your life from a well-meaning parent, a mentor, or supportive colleague. But how much truth is there to this?

Who you know IS more important than what you know…in some regards. The world has more than its share of brilliant people that don’t reach their true potential because they work in a vacuum with limited contact with other people. At the same time, far less brilliant people rise to great heights merely on the connections they have. Bill Gates is not the smartest computer person. He is simply a smart computer mind with a plethora of connections.

But as much as WHO you know is important, the world also has more than its share of individuals that seemingly know lots of people but gain very little from this network. How is this possible? Quite simply, it is more than just WHO you know.

Effective networking is not just about knowing lots of people, making dozens of phone calls, posting on LinkedIn, and attending events. Nor is effective networking just about connecting with and being connected to others. Effective networking is about having meaningful relationships with those you are connected to.

Success will not come from filling your database with the names of thousands of people but from creating relationships with a reasonable number of those people. Which people?
• Existing contacts and centers of influence, such as bankers, attorneys, accountants, and outplacement professionals.
• A wide variety of people whose businesses are directly related, indirectly related, and even seemingly unrelated to what you do.

Whatever the case, the important thing is to build a solid RELATIONSHIP with them.

Networking Works!

There is tremendous value in networking and networking adds value to you. Networking is much more than prospecting and selling. In general, it involves interacting with those around you (face-to-face, over the telephone, e-mail or text, and even using social media). Nevertheless, you engage in networking for the purpose of the people around you and at the same time position yourself to receive help.

Networking Works!

Now it may not work HOW you would like it to work. For example, you go to a networking event hoping to meet accountants who might know of people interested in buying a franchise. To that end, nothing pans out, but you do learn of a job-transition group that you were not aware of. Networking did not work HOW you wanted, but it worked.

Networking may not work WHERE you want it to work. The next day standing in line to get coffee, you strike up a conversation with someone who reveals in polite conversation that they are looking for more freedom in their professional life. Networking did not work WHERE you wanted, but it worked.

Finally, networking may not work WHEN you want it to work. For example, again, you go to a networking event hoping to make contacts to help you find clients interested in franchising. You seem to come up empty. Then a month later, a year later, or even a decade or more later, someone reconnects with you from that event looking to be your client. Trust me, this happens. Again, networking did not work WHEN you wanted, but it worked.


Networking Activities

Networking opportunities fall into three distinct categories: Face To Face … Electronic Encounters … and, Social Media.

FACE TO FACE networking opportunities include various activities when you are out and about with people, such as:

Structured Networking, including Toastmasters, Rotary, Lions Club, or organizations like AmSpirit Business Connections.

Networking Events, including trade shows, volunteer activities, business after-hours, Chamber events, seminars, and even social events like tailgates.

Free-Form Networking, including perhaps a round of golf, meeting over a cup of coffee, or just getting together.

With respect to networking in the modern age, much of what you can do face to face, you can accomplish via ELECTRONIC ENCOUNTERS. More specifically, you network over the telephone, over e-mail and through texting. Remember networking is more than selling and prospecting. It is two or more people working towards their mutual benefit – sharing referrals or contacts, passing on information, being encouraging and supportive.

Finally, in the 21st century, technological innovation has given way to SOCIAL MEDIA websites. These are nothing more than virtual venues where you can network – again, share referrals or contacts, pass on information, being encouraging and supportive.

The main three social media applications are LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, but beyond these are dozens and dozens of others. If used properly, social media will allow you to network on a massive scale, on a worldwide basis, 24 hours a day and seven days a week, and do so with incredible information about your networking partner before you even make contact.

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.

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.

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.