As mentioned in the first article of this business networking series, there are three key accelerators to a person’s success: integrity, knowledge, and network. While other things contribute to success, these are the key drivers. A significant aspect of these accelerators is that they interrelate with one another. Therefore, one must build a network with purpose. If you build your network properly, it strengthens knowledge and integrity.
In order to successfully build your network, you must first understand the purpose of business networking.
First and foremost, you must understand that networking is about personal brand-building. Just like a company, you need to build your brand. It is a competitive world, and we must do all we can to stand out. The more people that know you and say great things about you, the stronger your brand becomes. When I see the way others act when they are out networking, how they treat others, speak to others, fail to follow up, and do not do what they say they are going to do, I wonder if they understand the negative impact this is having on their personal brand.
It is important that you think about what you want your brand to be. As part of our coaching process, we suggest our clients identify their core values. These are the values that they want to project to the world. In other words, if I were to ask someone in your network to describe you, what qualities do you want to make the top five? These need to be top-of-mind every day and acted in every way to everybody. This ensures that when someone describes you to others they will present your core values.
When networking with purpose, it is important to remember what a business network can bring. While there are many reasons to have a network, they all fall into three primary buckets:
By expanding your network properly, you can expand knowledge. Imagine being able to answer any difficult question by just sending an e-mail or picking up the phone because someone in your network is ready to help.
Imagine being able to reach people other people can’t or accomplishing tasks that once seemed impossible.
As implied above, having a strong network can help you save time.
Unfortunately and too often, people think short-term and selfishly when they think about business networking. This very attitude compromises their integrity and stifles their capacity to build their networks. For example, there are people I call the Scorekeepers. They only will give referrals to someone if they get an equal amount of referrals or see some advantage to themselves (e.g. referral fee). They don’t count the goodwill that will be created by helping to put two people together that are both thankful for being connected. This gets back to my initial point of the interrelationship of the key drivers of success. The Scorekeepers may be at a crossroads with integrity. Are they referring the best person for the task at hand or because they have something material to gain from the person they refer?
When people network with purpose, they realize they are put on this Earth to serve. When you develop a service mentality, you become more selfless. Your concern is for others, getting to know them, learning about their unique skills and talents, their needs and desires, their interests and so on. You are then in a position where you can positively put people together in a productive way. By building your business network with a service mentality, you wind up with a network that will help you expand your network effortlessly.
Lastly, the larger your business network, the larger your net worth. According to Tim Sanders in Love is the Killer App, you should not screen anyone out. Sometimes people who appear powerless or insignificant are potential stars waiting to rise. Someday they may become a key connection in your network, and they will remember that you were on their side before they went large. Do not screen anyone out. People who judge their potential connections by present status may be kissing their future good-bye. You may never know where that one connection may lead you.
In the end, your success will grow in proportion to your network. At some point, like the Internet, it can just explode, and the growth of your net worth, both personally and financially, can be 20 to 50 times your network.
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