Almost everyone today knows the true importance of networking and having a number of network organisations or platforms, but the painful truth of the matter is that they have absolutely no idea how to utilize said networks. Entrepreneurs know this all too well and have spent countless amounts of time trying to build up their networking circles, only to find out that they have no idea what to do next!
To answer the dilemma in its shortest form would be to say that engaging with your network in a genuine manner is the right way to go about this conundrum.
It is not only enough to build up your network. Anyone can do this! Just take a look at most people’s LinkedIn profiles. They are in the thousands of followers but I can guarantee that half of those network geniuses don’t even engage half of their potential. ‘How do you engage your network?’ I hear you thinking to yourself. Well the answer is twofold.
The first part of engaging your network is to offer two simple things; an action and a promise. You need to let your networks know that you will be there to support them all the way through, promising this to them and then looking for the same kind of promise in return, almost like a pact. Afterwards, it’s not enough to simply say that you promise to support them but you will need to take action and actually come through on that promise! How can this be achieved you may ask? Simple; connect on a deeper level, with the most important ones who have something to offer you and them.
Some tips to start networking and these could be something like:
- Actually meeting your contacts and networks face to face in a regular, consistent meeting place. This is much more personal than just chatting via LinkedIn.
- Talking at length with your networks about what it is exactly that you offer and what they could offer you. Is there a possible service trade in the works?
- Visiting their workplace and view, with your own eyes, what kind of business they are and whether you should continue networking with them.
- Buy or trial some of their products, services, or other goods to truly gain an understanding of that network’s business. They might end up doing the same for you if you let them know.
Networking is something that has to be handled every day and can be quite a handful when done correctly. You need to be completely engaged with the networks and contacts you wish to benefit from or it really is no more than a numbers game. You could have 5000+ contacts in your network, but if they don’t know you, chances are they never will on their own. You need to engage and make the first move if you are to see any benefits.
Those who are involved in a reciprocal business relationship together are much more likely to exhibit a higher productivity track (Psychology Today).
For anyone to consider a network or contact as useful or beneficial to each other, the values of ethos, perception, recognition, quality relationships, and consistent dialogue are all amazingly important principles to uphold both on your end and from your potential contacts. If you are putting in more than your network is then it may be time to scrap that contact and find another that may be more interested in supporting your efforts as well.
There are certain times when you will most assuredly come across those who swear by how they did everything they could and still managed to have no actual success. It is almost guaranteed, every time, that that specific person (or persons) didn’t actually take the proper time to deeply engage with their networks and didn’t follow any of the above advice. It was as described above; said person had about 6000+ contacts in their network, and they could not tell what ONE of them did for a living. How does that help your networking issues? It is nothing but a superficial mask to hide the fact that these people could not even be bothered sending a simple message asking to connect and get to know each other better.
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Another very important thing to note is that your networks are not there to have things sold directly to them. You are not building a market list, you are networking! Your contacts will quickly become annoyed and may even ignore or delete you since they don’t really know you in the first place. As stated above, you need to make sure that your networking efforts are all about relationship creation and nurturing. These are the people that may even help sell your products once they know you! It really is a great opportunity!
The one thing that you must understand going forward is that true networking and proper relationship building will take quite some time to flourish but given enough time and correct attention, this process will blossom and you may find yourself with more business than you can handle.