How do I build a network?
This is a question I hear from many people several times a week. My answer has evolved with technology and the ability for you to practice some online networking but my principles behind it remain the same and are critical to your success.
You may be resistant to building a network for business because you associate it with schmoozing, insincerity and an icky selfish feeling. With that said, when I answer your question, “How do I build a network?”, you’ll see that if you build a network for business correctly, you won’t be worried about any of that.
In the past, old-school networkers were transactional. They pursued relationships thinking solely about what other people can do for them. Relationship builders, on the other hand, try to help others first. They don’t keep score, and they prioritize high-quality relationships over a boat load of meaningless connections. This is what I like to call relationship networking.
2 skills are required when building a network for business (or even personal, for that matter)
- Walk in the other person’s shoes. You need to be able to understand the other person’s perspective or how they view the world.
- Begin with the GIVE in mind. Transactional relationships are all about WIIFM (what’s in it for me). This idea flips that on its head. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not asking you to let go of all your own interests. However, studies have shown that those who spend some genuine time and interest in finding shared interests have proven to be better at building a network for business.
So now that I’ve covered the skills needed for building a network for business, let’s move on to the tips to guarantee success.
6 Tips to Building a Network for Business
1. Focus on the correct people. The secret to networking isn’t to attend a networking event and pass out as many business cards as you can. In fact, I don’t even carry business cards! I see people come out to events and just start handing out business cards like candy while paying no attention to who they’re even giving them to. The goal is to focus on the people who can help your career and who have shared interests with you.
2. Make it a win/win. I mentioned this above but feel it’s important enough to reiterate again and again… never come off as a schmoozer. Focus on the other person’s needs and help them meet them. They’ll want to help you too. It’s human nature.
3. Connect the dots. Sometimes, you’re going to meet people who you can’t help directly or who can’t help you. You should still try to introduce them to others who can help them. Some of the best networkers I know are connectors. They’re remembered well by many.
4. Lead with the GIVE. In networking situations, people expect you to ask them for help. Turn that around on them and watch the results.
5. Use social networks. Online networking is critical nowadays! Millennials can’t even imagine life without it. Honestly, I can’t either. LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are powerful tools you can use to connect in a personal way to people all over the world. Online networking is a great way to broaden your network and share what’s important to you.
6. Keep the contact warm. I’m sure this has happened to you too. An old friend reached out to you out of the blue who you haven’t heard from in years and asks you to buy something they’re pitching. Frankly, nothing pisses me off more than that. Don’t be that guy. After you choose the right people to network with, remember to stay in contact with them.
So if you’re ever asked, “How do I build a network?, feel free to share this. In fact, if you know of anyone looking to build a network who you feel could benefit from this, feel free to share it on facebook or twitter. Online networking at it’s best, right?