Have you ever left an event and asked yourself, “Was that networking event worthwhile?” In reality, the answer is “Absolutely!”. After all, every event offers value. Some offer more immediate value than others. They all have value, however.
Track your results however you deem appropriate. But before you completely pass judgment on an event, remember that the benefits of any networking activity may not present themselves for weeks, months, or even years. So keep track of who you met, follow through on any promises you made, and patiently wait to see what comes from your attendance at this event.
“What kind of currency is more valued than a hundred-dollar bill, more compact than a quarter and accepted in every country?”
Jason Treu poses this question in his best-selling book, Social Wealth: How to Build Extraordinary Relationships By Transforming the Way We Live, Love and Network. And the answer is simple: Social Capital.
Social capital is the intrinsic value of the personal relationships within your network. These relationships serve to bolster your position in life by providing you with personal and professional opportunities, additional wonderful contacts, and ideas and insights.
As Treu continues, “The greater your social capital, the more opportunities, access and resources you will have to get what you want in life, the more relationships you will have, and the faster your relationships will progress.”
In summary, the people you interact with serve to put money in your pocket. It’s not necessarily direct, but the more and better people you associate with the greater your eventual wealth.
There’s a cute parable that goes something like this: A family has a stair that gives out a deafening creak whenever they step on it. Determined to rid their house of this annoying quirk, they contact an old, neighborhood handyman.
The handyman comes in. He steps on the stair once. Creak. Then twice. Creak. He takes a close-up look, then without a word pulls out a two-inch finish nail and proceeds to hammer it into the step with three solid taps.
He steps on the stair again. Once. No sound. Twice. Silence. Three times. Nothing.
The family is amazed. As each of them tests the stair, they are completely astonished. They are equally astonished, however, when the handyman gives them the bill.
The father remarks in disbelief, “$100 for a minute of your time and one nail!” To which the old handyman replies, “Yes! One cent for the nail and $99.99 for knowing where to put it.”
Remember, your value is less about time and more about expertise.
There is tremendous value in networking and networking adds value to you. But remember, networking is much more than prospecting and selling. In general, it involves interacting with those around you (face-to-face, over the telephone, via e-mail or text, and even using social media). Regardless of your method, you engage in networking for the purpose of assisting and supporting the people around you. At the same time, you position yourself to receive help from them. Why bother? Because Networking Works!
Now, it may not work HOW you would like it to. 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. So here Networking Works, just not HOW you thought it would.
Networking may not work WHERE you want it to. The next day standing in line to get coffee, you strike up a conversation with someone. They reveal in polite conversation that they are looking for more freedom in their professional life. In this situation, Networking Works, but not WHERE you expect it to.
Finally, networking may not work WHEN you want it to. 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 looking to be your client reconnects with you from that event. Trust me, this happens. Again, Networking Works but not WHEN you think it will…but it definitely works!
Learn more about networking and AmSpirit Business Connections at www.amspirit.com.
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.
Frank Agin, host of Networking Rx and founder of AmSpirit Business Connections, encourages you to be generous with the value you add to the world, but indicates that you’ll encounter one of four responses to your contributions.
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 burning question after most any networking event is “Was that worthwhile?”
In reality, the answer is “Absolutely!”. After all, every event offers
value. Some offer more immediate value than others. They all have value,
Track your results however you deem appropriate. Before you completely
pass judgment on an event, however, remember that the benefits of any
networking activity may not present themselves for weeks, months, or even years.
No doubt, when interacting with others at networking events you are hopeful of getting things … clients, important contacts, and useful information. Understand this: They are too. You can make an indelible impression on them by finding some way of helping them – even if only in a small way. So as they talk, run whatever they are saying through a filter that queries: “How can I add value to this person?” This is the Golden Rule of Networking – Give first and get second.
There is nothing that says that you have to help them right there and then. If you can help them in that moment, great. If not, do not despair.
Just understand that you make the most of building that connection by trying to find some way you can add value to them later. It might be a referral. It might be a contact. It might be useful information for them.
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
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
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