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.

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.