Communication consultant Felicia Slattery wrote in her book Kill The Elevator Speech: “As human beings, we can’t not network. It’s part of our nature, our collective DNA, as social beings. From caves to campfires to tribes to villages to towns to cities to social media, we are and have always been social creatures, personally and professionally.”
Slattery’s point is insightful. You might feel like a solitary soul, but the reality is that everything you do and everything you are is wrapped up in the lives of the people around you. The people you serve. The people who serve you. The information upon which you rely. Everything.
You might not enjoy hob-knobbing at networking events … and that’s okay. But be sure to substitute that with other things. One-on-one meetings. Volunteering. Attending industry functions.
So, don’t shrink from building relationships. In short, get up and get out of your cave, and go network. It’s in your DNA.
“It’s Not What You Know, But Who You Know.” Chances are you’ve heard that once or twice in your life. Maybe from a well-meaning parent, a mentor, or a supportive colleague. But how much truth is there to this, especially as it applies to networking? You see, networking is more than just finding people.
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. Why? 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 and more than just finding people.
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.
Learn more about networking and AmSpirit Business Connections at www.amspirit.com.
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.
Get Started (or expand your usage to be more effective)
Make time to take a little action each day
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.
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 may seem 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.
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 home page of LinkedIn, 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.
The third active use of LinkedIn is to add value by contributing content. Think for a moment about 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 discussions going on. Jump in and add value.
This does NOT mean pitch yourself or your 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 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.
Frank Agin, host of Networking Rx and founder of AmSpirit Business Connections, follows up on his recent episode on Dunbar’s Number to share insight and perspective as to how you can apply this science to your daily network and relationship building.
Frank Agin, host of Networking Rx and founder of AmSpirit Business Connections, talks about how to be successful without selling with author and consultant Diane Helbig. Learn more at www.seizethisday.co.
Frank Agin, host of Networking Rx and founder of AmSpirit Business Connections, with entrepreneur Rob Lawless who is committing to do a 10K. But not run. Rather have a 1:1 conversation with 10,000 people over 10 years. You can connect with Rob on Instagram via @robs10kfriends or e-mail him at email@example.com.