I decided to dust up one of my audios yesterday, and I’ve been listening to it since then. It’s an audio by Harvey Mackay, and it’s about building powerful networking relationships. Contrary to popular opinion, it’s an area where I believe I have serious room for improvement. Peter Drucker once said – “More business decisions occur over lunch and dinner than at any other time, yet no MBA courses are given on the subject”. Since there is no course or formal training on networking, it’s knowledge we must all invest in getting, and a life course we must all sit… and before this sounds like mere education, please know sincerely that I am building my network, and I’ll like to get to know YOU better.
If you are thinking, I’m an employee, what do I need to network and build powerful relationships for? Well, be sure that you will not be an employee for life, even if you want to be. The age of collecting 35yrs service award golden wristwatch is far gone, and even if you have that temperament, you’ll have to retire someday – Either to read newspapers and earn passive income, or to engage in one hobby or the other, either way, you’ll still need people, so why not start building those relationships now.
Harvey Mackay talked about a one day course he attended in UCLA – 77 Reasons why you should fly first class. As much as it sounded interesting and funny to me, I could identify with it. You are not worth more than your network, in fact your networth is your network. Before we plunge headlong into how to network, who to network and the right objectives for networking, let’s first understand what Networking is, and what it is not.
So what is networking? According to ‘The Networking Book’ by Jessica Lipnack and Jeffrey Stamps, ‘Networking is people connecting with people, linking ideas and resources.’ The book ‘Power Networking, 55 Secrets for Personal & Professional Success’ states that networking is not: 1) Selling; 2) Using people for your gain; 3) Coercing or manipulating someone to do what you want; 4) Putting friends, neighbors, associates on the spot; or 5) Badgering people about your business.
Networking is not a shotgun quick fix approach to getting to know people so that you can convert them to business tomorrow, it’s a gradual building of relationships with people with the interest of knowing them, and exchanging value with them over time. Real networking is longterm relationship building with people linking ideas and resources for the greater good of both parties.
Here are a few key thoughts on networking
1. Establish Relationships
Typically try to know people well. Don’t just network for the purpose of business, be genuinely interested in people. No one cares what you know until they know how much you care. Harvey Mackay says they have 66 questions their employees have to know about their clients that will stun the CIA. We need to know details about our network or clients, also about our employees, and people.
2. Be Generous
Many people establish relationships because of what they can get, that’s not good enough. Look not only at what you can get, but also at what you can give. How can you help? How can you add value.
“The currency of real networking is not greed but generosity” – Keith Ferrazzi
3. Reach out to Strangers
If you are in a crowd and you stay to yourself, then you isolate yourself. Every stranger is an opportunity to meet one more person. Every flight is an opportunity to interact with one more person. Every training is more valuable for it’s network than it’s information. If you go for a seminar, bond with someone, learn the art of listening, and of introducing yourself.
In Creativity Cafe, “Strangers are just friends who haven’t yet met!” – Peter Rosen
4. Be Honest
Don’t cun your way into a relationship. Be honest about your true intentions, don’t schedule a meeting to interview someone if you really want the person to interview you for a job. If you need help be upfront and straightfoward, don’t be discovered to be phony. Honesty is still the best policy, and integrity and trust are still the universally accepted capital for business.
5. Network Selectively
“You never know, someone might say yes” – that’s marketing for dummies, not intelligent people. Don’t go around networking every tom dick and harry. Be selective. Take time to build a profile for the type of people who what you have to offer will appeal to, or who you can be of genuine help to. Speak to people predisposed to what you have to offer, not just anybody that breathes.
“A friend of the whole world, will come to ruin” – The Holy Bible.
Networking is a two way street. So if someone has assisted you, make it a priority to help her down the road. However, do not expect something for someone just because you did something for her. Sometimes that person may not be in the position to help you. However, personally I believe that if you help someone out of the goodness of your heart, it is the ‘order of the universe’ that someone will help you one day. And remember, it has been said, that it is better to give than to receive.
“Give and it will come back to you, in good measure, shaken together, and running over, shall me give to your bossom” – The Holy Bible.
7. Value contacts ahead of contracts
When relationships and contracts clash, go for relationships. Business deals are really relationships between people. People will do business with you because the know you, like you, or trust you. Get a Rolodex (I just learnt that one, it’s a device that is used to store contacts), George bush, and Clinton had some of the best disciplines known ever of keeping people fresh in their minds, that’s why they became president. Keep people fresh in your mind, know them, know about them.
8. Find a Creative way to stay in touch
We met before is an acquaintance, not a relationship. Relationships are cultivated, nourished, developed. It requires calling, mailing, sending sms, and visiting. It requires knowing birthdays, staying in touch, helping out, linking up.
If I score myself on networking, with you for example, I certainly am not doing well. I have however identified this, and I want to really be better. I want to be top 5 Networkers in Nigeria. I want to know people, deeply, to support them, help them and connect them. I’m not doing poorly, but I have great room for improvement. There are so many people that check this site daily for example that never say a word, never drop a comment, just come in, share it with friends and walk. I need you, all of you. Get in touch with me, let me know you, let’s build a relationship. I’m tired of counting hits, I want to count people, people that I know well, people I can help and people that can support me.
It’s the right season and time… our future, the future of our nation and of our children, depend on our abilities to connect today. What are you doing about your network?