“Who do you know?” Some say, “Its not who you know, but who knows you.” Others say “its not what you know but who you know” that’s important. Regardless which saying resonates, this seemingly simple concept is a priceless one, particularly if you are in business. Unfortunately, it is also a question we often fail to ask ourselves. My own coach refers to it as Relationship Capital.
What is your Network?
The term network can be defined as a group or an alliance of people who you know. These people may be co-workers, colleagues, friends, members in your running group or your church, competitors, present and past employees, suppliers, neighbours or people you meet at a networking or educational event. They will most likely come from different walks of life, be in different roles, and yet, you have something in common – each other.
Why is building a Network Important?
The number one method of securing a new job or gaining new business is by word of mouth introductions – in other words, through referrals. The success of “the old boys network” for decades demonstrates how these principles do have a positive impact on making connections and building business.
How many times have you asked friends, family and other people you know what brand they use, or which model they like best, or what they know about a company? People trust the word of people they know, like and trust over that of a stranger or advertisements.
Another key benefit of your network if you are in business, is potential customers who are referred to you are frequently “sold” before they ever speak to you. You are just the ‘cherry on top’. This not only saves you time and money, but it allows you an opportunity to really add value to this customer. Most people who were referred will refer others. Wouldn’t you like an income stream generated by referrals?
Networks are Two-Way Streets
Great business relationships include two conditions:
1) Each person in the relationship offers value to the other.
2) Each person works effectively with the other.
Obviously the success of a network is in the way each person is able to help others. Working your network only for what you will gain will back-fire! Givers-Gain is a great mindset to maintain. When you refer others, or offer to help them achieve a specific goal i.e., meet a person in your network, they are more likely to reciprocate with you. Always keep the interests of others in your network in mind and make sure you are giving as much as you are receiving, and everyone will win!
A few questions to ask about each relationship:
- What value does that person bring to you? Why do you need that person on your side?
- How would you describe his or her leadership and communication style?
- What criteria does he/she focus on when making decisions (e.g., technical, business, political or process issues)?
- Who influences this person? Who does he/she perceive to be mentors and trusted sources?
- What past issues and resentments need to be resolved before the relationship can get stronger?
Your Next Steps
Again I ask… Who do you know?
This exercise involves creating a list of 100 people you that know, their position, contact information and how they may help you and, most importantly, how you could help them?
Once you have created this list, identify a group of 10 – 25 who you can reach out to at first, then expand to others on the list. Can you share something of value to them, or offer an introduction to someone who may be interested in their product/service, can you share their blog post or other social media activity to help increase their exposure? Don’t be afraid to ask for help if they could help you, but remember to ask what you could can do to help them. If they say nothing, try to be imaginative to show your thanks in another way. You may share resources, articles, tools they may find useful, send a hand written card, make a donation to their favourite charity. The ideas are endless.
Continue to stay connected with your network connections and try to add value wherever possible. Always be respectful of their time and “in-box” but when done well, most will be happy to keep in touch with you.
Are you up for the challenge?
Will you do what it takes to build and maintain your personal and business network in an authentic and value-added way for the success of your business or career? Download a complimentary copy of our Network Circuit Board to get you started. Please share your experiences with us.
If Ignite Leadership can assist you and your business, please reach out. You may be interested in our mastermind or group coaching options to connect with other like-minded business leaders. We offer a complimentary Ignite Business call to explore your next steps. Click on the contact us button below to get started.