his book, Who Do You Want To Meet, author Rob Thomas offers a simple way
to classify your network. The purpose of this is to ensure that you make the
highest and best use of your time in cultivating relationships: Start by rating
your list of contacts on a scale one to four.
Ones are individuals with whom you are newly connected.
Twos are people you know. But these are people who you’ve had no real
contact with for some time. The relationship is there, but it’s dormant until
one of you takes action.
Threes are those connections where there is an active relationship, but
the benefits are generally one sided. Either you’re doing things for them and
them not reciprocating or vice versa. And…
Fours are those relationships that are mutually beneficial.
this classification in hand, you’ll know best how to invest time and energy in
your relationships. Plus, you’ll have a great understanding of how you can work
to improve your network.
One of Aesop’s Fables goes like this: A Lion
prowled about a field in which four oxen dwelled. Many a time the lion tried to
attack the oxen but whenever he approached, they would turn their tails to one
another. So that whichever way the lion approached, he was challenged by a set
of large and threatening horns. He had no hope in taking down any of the oxen.
Then one day, the oxen began quarreling amongst
themselves. Frustrated with each other, they went off to graze alone in
separate corners of the field. With this change, the Lion attacked them one by
one and soon brought an end to all four.
Your network is much like the four oxen working
in unity. When figuratively shoulder to shoulder with those you know, like and
trust, you (and they) become more formidable than when you attempt to take on
the world alone.
Adam Connors, speaker, social
architect and founder of NetworkWise, is fond of saying that “Relationships are
opportunities for revenue.” In short, Connors implies that from relationships
No, a relationship is not a
guarantee of revenue. And some are not intended to be revenue-generating. But
revenue seldom comes without some form of relationship. Sure, people might
order books, flowers, or dog food over the phone or online. But serious
purchases and long-time clients, well, they are all born out of the
relationships that Connors is referring to.
Remember, the people who do
business with you and the people who associate with you, do so because they have
some level of relationship with you. Over time, you’ve done things to help them
know, like and trust you.
So, if you’re looking to
build revenue, double down on the one thing that creates opportunities for it.
Invest time and attention to your relationships.
Networking is a verb, an action word. Thus,
you cannot network by sitting back and letting the world operate around you. You
need to get out there and actively involve yourself.
At work, if there are extracurricular
projects to tackle or committees on which to serve, be at the forefront of
getting involved. In your business, take the initiative of finding an industry
association to join. In addition to your work or business, actively involve
yourself with local school, civic and charitable organizations.
What is so special about you being
actively involved? Like magic, it transforms you into something special. People
want to associate with you when you are actively engaged in something beyond
the daily minimum requirements.
When you set an example of action, you
project yourself as a doer and a person with achievement potential. And these
prospects of success attract others to you. Your action gives others a much
greater interest in getting to know, like and trust you.
What you do, whatever it is, isn’t easy, right? If
you’re like most people it can seem like life conspires against you, and what
should be simple gets complicated in a hurry. It can feel as though the “gremlins”
of life have put obstacles in your way that prevent you from doing what you
intend to do.
When you encounter these roadblocks, heed the
advice of Dr. Randy Pausch. A computer professor at Carnegie Melon University, Pausch
made an inspiring “last lecture” months before succumbing to terminal brain
cancer in the fall of 2007. Pausch called these obstacles brick walls. He
believed that brick walls are not there to prevent you from doing the things you
want or hope to do. Rather, brick walls are there to simply assess how bad you
So, the next time you face a roadblock or obstacle,
don’t commiserate. Rather remind yourself of exactly how much you want what you’re
Michael Goldberg, author of Knockout Networking has a
saying: “Networking is a two-way street!”
To elaborate, he then suggests a litany of questions to
ponder in any relationship:
How can we help one another?
How can we work together?
How can we be resources for one another?
How can we refer each other?
are great questions. And ones that you shouldn’t consider rhetorical. Rather, whenever you’re in conversation with someone else … whenever you’re thinking
about contacts in your network … whenever you’re looking to add value to others
…. you should take an active approach to finding reasonable answers to these
Goldberg will tell you, effective networking is an ongoing process of learning
about others and then finding ways to help them. If you consistently engage in
this thought process, the vast majority of the time you’ll uncover things you
can do to help others. And once you’re consistently helping other, in time,
things will come back to you.
Sociological research has shown that
the vast majority of opportunities your network provides will not come from
close ties, such as friends and relatives. Rather great career opportunities, new
client wins, and groundbreaking information come from weak ties. These are
people you know, but ones that you only see and interact with occasionally.
Why? Because close ties tend
to occupy the same world as you do. Think about it. A spouse or close friend may
share many of the same network contacts you already know.
Mere acquaintances, or
“weak ties”, on the other hand, are much more likely to know people that you do
not. While you might share a small overlap in networks, most of the people they
know are completely unknown to you.
So, when it comes to job
hunting or finding clients or generally getting ahead, there is much strength
in connecting with weak ties.
this, everything you do with respect to your network will somehow, some way,
come back to you. Referrals given work into referrals for you in return.
Encouragement comes back as encouragement. Introductions made result in
introductions received. Know that what you put into your network comes back to
that, also know this. Very little (if any) of what you do for your network will
come back to you tomorrow. Or even next week. Or, perhaps next month, for that
matter. You simply need to trust that what you put into your network will eventually
come back to you.
while you wait for these returns on your networking investment, remain
optimistic about your networking efforts and simply keep contributing. And as
you do, do whatever you can to keep from being discouraged. You’ve made an
investment. The returns are coming. Believe that.