What is this group about?
What is networking?
Think about it, you network all the time. How do you get information about a new car or about the next holiday trip? Why are you reading a specific book or why did you go see that particular movie? How will you find a baby-sitter at the last minute or get hold of that cook for your party? In many cases you will call on someone you know.
Still, networking does not come easy for everyone…
A lot has to do with knowing the rules of how to network. Today that includes online as well as offline.
I would like to offer some ideas and tips on how to become a more effective connector or networker.
Effective networking will build you a LIFELONG community of colleagues, champions, friends and mentors. The great news is anyone can do it starting today.
The secret to successful networking is truly connecting one relationship at a time
Relationships really matter, our own well being comes from our relationships. Building strong relationships, which is what networking is all about, is even more important now in this new, fast-paced, global business environment.
Successful people do not achieve their success on their own; instead they surround themselves with a well developed, sophisticated support network. In a world that grows more complex and more competitive every day, networking is necessary not only for survival but also for high achievement.
The central principal of networking is the spiritual ideal common to all the world’s great moral systems: the concept of GAINING through GIVING. We all network, but some of us- the most successful of us – are Networking Masters.
The really great thing about effective networking is it’s not only great for life and business, it’s very rewarding and when done right it’s FUN!!!
The power of generosity. When you help others they often help you.
Reciprocity is a fancy word for caring for each other and taking a vested interest in each other’s success. Friends helping friends family helping family and has nothing to do with manipulation or quid pro quo
Networking or connecting is about helping others and asking for the help of others Sharing resources talents knowledge contacts in a continuous effort to help OTHERS be successful
Real connecting is one of the most important business skills you can have. Why?
Because people do business with people and people they know, like, and trust
So what is the secret to success… in one word generosity. We have to be willing to give it and be willing to ask for it. Connecting is a constant process of giving and receiving.
Networks functions because there is recognition of a mutual need.
“Build a community of those you love and those that love you”
Build it before you need it and then continue to build it.
I am not talking about just promoting your product or idea, or about manipulating other people or even to keep track of the “score”.
The point is to help others without strings attached. To put this in business terms: First you need to “invest” in a non-obligatory way to possibly reap the rewards later on. What you “receive” can be something really big, like a tall order from a new customer, but can equally be small like the smile or a thank you note from a person you have helped.
Network with the motto “Givers Always Gain” and your life will be much less complicated and its quality will improve!
The advantages of networking
A good network has many, many advantages here are just some of the advantages:
- You will acquire information more easily. Handy when looking for a new home, to hire a new contractor or a new job.
- You will achieve your goals more easily. The Weight Watchers’ success is partly due to the fact that members feel supported by the network of co-members, allowing them to reach their weight loss goals easier or faster. The same goes for professionals: people who can rely on their network within a company or as an independent will attain a certain position or achieve their mission smoother and more easily than others.
- You feel good and your self-image grows. It feels good to help others and to contribute to another’s success, don’t you agree? This is equally so for both your professional life (customers, colleagues) and your private life (family, friends, neighbors).
- You will suffer less from stress, as you know that support is always within reach. For example let’s say you are self-employed and you have a good network. Then you know you can always rely on a team of experts (e.g. your employees, solicitor, accountant, banker, focus group). You also know you can let them handle some of the issues at hand without having to worry.
- You can work more efficiently and more productively. A good network will help you not having to re-invent the wheel. You can focus on those tasks where you have the greatest added value.
Avoid the networking pitfalls. It will save time and effort later and avoid your image being damaged.
When networking, beware of pitfalls:
- Only take, never give. Not only your success rate will be rather low, but in the long run it will turn against you and damage your reputation severely. Do you consciously do the opposite, then you can rest assured people will admire you as a person in your work as well as in your private life.
- Starting (too) late to network. Many people (especially self-employed people just starting up their business or people who recently were fired) start to network when they are in need of an immediate answer to their questions. When it’s five past 12, so to speak. Networking is a process that yields results in the long run. Don’t wait for tomorrow, start today.
- Always wanting to be in the spotlight. Some people believe it is in their best interest to be continuously talking and throwing their business cards round. “In this way everyone will know who I am” is his or her motto. One of the conditions to call on your network is knowing what people do and what they can mean for you. So listen to them. Go a step further by asking what you can do for them. So listening is a key part of networking!
- Being insincere. Don’t let broken promises litter your path.
- Don’t wait. Waiting until someone asks for information or waiting to ask a question yourself. Both will not advance your cause. You need to take the initiative. Be a pro-active networker! You need to make your network work and to keep it “alive”. When you come across interesting information, share it with possible interested parties in your network. When you are wrestling with an issue, ask your network for advice. You will get a solution faster and you give your network the opportunity to do something for you and keep your network alive.
Tip: Start by being more aware of the people in your network or missing from your network. For a business memory jogger see the attached last page
Take a sheet of paper and note the answers to the following questions:
- Which groups are there in your network? Think a step further than the traditional domains like family, work and friends. Make sub-groups.
- Who are the key people in those groups? Write their names on the sheet.
- What is your relationship with this people? For example rate them from 1 to 5 (you could also note why you rate these people like this).
Now you should have a rough picture of your network.
You can go a little bit further: who is missing in your network. This doesn’t have to be a name, it can also be a “role”. For example a _____ specialized in _____ …or a new even tennis partner.
Think about this for a few moments and add it to your sheet.
This exercise makes clear which current contacts you better (re)activate and which type of person you have to start looking for.
The people in your network have the biggest influence in your life. So make sure the right people are in your network!
Let’s take a look at the essence of networking: the Golden Triangle of Networking.
The Golden Triangle of Networking consists of:
This may seem very obvious to you, but only a few people excel in every area. Probably you are an expert in one, perhaps two, and yourself. But the chances are small that you are excellent in all three.
However it is crucial to include all three elements in order to “keep the networking machine running.”
- If you never offer something, people won’t be willing to help you again.
- If you don’t make requests, then you won’t have a good feeling in the long run. And you also don’t give other people the opportunity to help you.
- If you never thank people, the fun and satisfaction of the party that helps you, will slowly fade away.
Remember: networking has to be fun too! Otherwise you won’t keep doing it. This applies to you, but also to all the people you meet.
Let’s go a bit deeper into the details of the elements of the golden triangle.
We have already discussed why it is important to keep giving to the members of your network:
If you never offer anything, people won’t be willing to help you again.
Now you might wonder: “what do I have to offer to my network?” In fact lots of things.
Here are some examples of how you can be of service to your network:
- Recommend people, products and services that you liked
- Share information that you find yourself with trial and error
- Give feedback about ideas
- Be supportive, and encourage people
- Offer your expertise
- Brainstorm and contribute to ideas
- Learn what other people do so you can promote them and refer people to them
- Send information to others which you (accidentally) came across and which may be useful to others
- And my golden tip: help introduce your contacts to each other
“First, you have to be visible in the community. You have to get out there and connect with people. It’s not called net-sitting or net-eating. It’s called networking. You have to work at it.” Ivan Misner
Remember networking is always played by al least two parties. In the long run. You reap what you have sown yourself. Start sowing (giving) and you will be able to reap.
Here is a great quote on giving:
“We make a life by what we give” (Winston Churchill)
If you never make a request, you will not have a good feeling about networking in the long run. You also will not give others the opportunity to help you.
So this goes a step further than the observation that if you don’t ask, you will receive almost nothing. However, many people have difficulties with making requests.
Here are some tips that will help you to be more comfortable when making requests:
- Be clear about what you want and need. Don’t give subtle hints and suggestions. And don’t hope people will notice when you want something. ASK!
- Inform people why you think they are the person that can help you. For example tell them that you regard them as the expert in their area and you need their expert advice, not a suggestion from the guy next door.
- Be specific. The more specific the question, the higher the chance that you help them to find the right “files in their mental computer. Compare this with doing a search in the Internet search engine Google.
- Be brief. Too many details can make your question disappear in this avalanche of information.
- Be strong. Don’t ask a question out of weakness or with a complaining voice. Making a request means that you want to move on. This is a very positive thing, not something you have to worry about.
- Ask with the expectation that you will receive what you want. Honor the other person by taking a positive attitude towards his/her ability to help you.
- Give people the chance to react. Ask a question and remain silent for a few moments. This allows the other person to think about it and give a response.
- Make a request in such a way that the people see the opportunities for you and the importance of their response. Share your dream, vision of goals with them.
If you want to move on in life and give your network the opportunity to help you, it is crucial to make requests regularly and in a respectful way!
The last angle of the Golden Triangle: “Thanking”.
If you never thank people, the fun and satisfaction of helping you will slowly fade away.
Some people have difficulties with complimenting and thanking other people in a sincere way. Especially for them I have a few tips:
- Compliment the other person in a direct way: look the person in the eyes; make sure you get his/her attention. Don’t pretend it isn’t important. Say it loud, clear and with emphasis.
- Be specific. Don’t give general compliments, but point out what you liked about a specific action.
For example, instead of saying: “Tom, I like your performance”:
”Tom, I appreciate the way you welcomed that customer when the receptionist wasn’t there. If you hadn’t done that, he surely would have left and we probably risked missing an important deal.”
- Show your appreciation for the behavior of people and their characteristics or qualities. Give positive feedback with regard to their values, strengths and inherent talents. Do the same for the way they use those strengths and talents to get things done.
For example: “Congratulations with your own business. I admire your courage to follow your dream and become self-employed.”
To conclude these tips about the Golden Triangle of networking here is a great quote from Mother Theresa:
“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”
Making New Contacts
In our next set of tips let’s look at making new contacts. Though it is equally important to keep in touch with your current network, most people have difficulties with establishing new contacts. That’s the reason why I go more into the details of making contact.
The most common way of expanding your network is attending a reception, a training course, a meeting of a business club or another event.
Though there are many books written about this subject, I want to offer you some basic principles. I will gather the tips in the following 5 parts:
- Establishing contact
- Presenting yourself
- Following up
A good preparation gets you going and will improve the results (whatever they may be for you). Establishing the contact physically is easier for one person than for another. You will receive some more tips about that. The most important skill of networking is listening to other people. That’s why I dedicated future education to this topic. To ensure that other people know who you are and what you have to offer, you have to be able to present yourself in a short and clear way. Finally people tend to forget to follow up the established contacts. That’s a pity, so I dedicate future education to that too.
Watch for future tips on “How to become a MASTER NETWORKER”.
Please make sure you are on my mailing list. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and ask to be added to the email list
I hope you find my tips useful. This is really powerful and life changing stuff.
I wish you all the best- Bryan Daly
Great books on the subject of networking
Anything written by Ivan Misner the founder of BNI
“Never Eat Alone” by Keith Ferrazzi
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