“The only difference between where you are right now, and where you’ll be next year at this same time, are the people you meet and the books you read”
– Charlie “Tremendous” Jones
Author of ‘Life Is Tremendous’
Take a moment and list your most powerful connections. Then ask yourself, “what have I done for these people lately?”
The sport of networking is not a popularity contest (LinkedIn gets this – that’s why they stop the connection count at 500+), and it’s not about what you can get from others – it is about building strong relationships and maximizing your connections so that they benefit from you.
Below are the golden rules for building your network effectively.
– Realize that networking is more powerful than any media. Most jobs and business opportunities are not even advertised, it’s done through word of mouth. In fact, 74% of jobs & business opportunities are filled through networking.
– Notice how the word networking has the word ‘work’ in it. Networking is a discipline that requires effort. Just like going to the gym, you need to schedule time each week to engage in networking. Set a realistic networking goal such as networking with three new people a week: perhaps one person inside your company, and two people external in your community.
– The same rules apply for virtual networking as in person: You have to make a good first impression. This starts with your profile. You need to have a great head shot (professionally taken). Most people are likely to connect with you if there is a picture associated with your profile. Your profile is not a resume, it should focus more on what you can do for your audience and the value you can deliver, and less on what you have done in the past.
– Provide VALUE first! Approach networking with the 70/30 rule: Focus 70% on giving, and 30% on receiving. Give more than you get. A colleague of mine is a financial planner, she sends amazingly helpful information to her connections on various topics such as navigating through new tax laws, saving money, and the hottest new mutual funds on the market. This information gets forwarded on and on until a connection of a connection wants more information, and subsequently reaches out to her – a perfect example of reciprocity.
– When meeting someone in-person for the first time (pay close attention millennials), shake their hand, look them in the eye, introduce yourself, and ask a questions about them. Your question should be open-ended and non-threatening such as “How are things going, how long have you been a member of…”
– Nurture Your Network. Don’t bother collecting business cards if you are not going to follow up with them. Send your new connection an article or message that somehow ties in to the initial conversation you had with them. Schedule regular intervals (15 minutes a day) to reach out to members of your established network. This is how social media is so effective – find out what’s going on with your connections – which connections have a new job, wrote a new post, or need some advice. This is a perfect example of why having FEWER connections is better than having more connections that are less meaningful.
– To summarize – optimize your LinkedIn profile. Set consistent networking goals and set aside regular intervals to engage in networking. Provide Value without expecting anything in return – reach out to a senior citizen, or a millennial, a college student, or anyone who needs a mentor. If you can really help them, then you can make a solid, deep connection.
Networking pearls of wisdom that I have jotted down:
“Always be willing to help others with your time, or making an introduction to one of your connections”.
“Never keep score or expect anything in return”.
“The currency of networking is generosity” (my favorite).
“If people like you they will listen to you, but if they trust you, they’ll do business with you” (Zig Zigler). Always be authentic – show you are human by sharing your failures as well as your successes.
“Use your rolodex wisely. Value other people’s time. People notice when you waste their time”.