Coach Dan tells you why it’s important to network. Gain the street smarts of networking and find out how you can enhance your connections and keep them.
Alright gang; it’s time for a pop quiz. Can you tell me how many times you’ve networked with someone online or in person and exchanged ideas and thoughts regarding your business in the last week? If your answer is less than three, you’re in great trouble.
According to the Webster’s Dictionary, networking means “interchanging information or services among a group of persons or organizations.” There is absolutely, positively, no time better than now to start building your networks to grow your business and personal contacts. You cannot live secluded with your own ideas in this fast changing business environment that we live in! If you are, pull your head out of the sand and figure this “networking” thing out! Start off small and keep it simple but the concept is becoming a critical business skill.
In a world dominated by new modes of communication, we have no choice but to connect with others and gain new knowledge regarding running our businesses. Let me give you an example of the power of connectivity and how it can influence the way we work and build networks. Recently, a top GE executive told a business marketing conference in Phoenix Arizona how they sourced a new design for an aircraft part. GE, with 18,000 engineers on its rolls opened up a design competition worldwide to find out who could provide a new, “outside the box” kind of design for this particular aircraft part. Despite its vast internal resources, the best design was sourced from an Indonesian college student! You need to build your networks NOW. Your competition is now global and is not limited by territory or skills. The smart business people know how to find opportunity, build great networks and disrupt the old ways of thinking. Technology is now the new equalizer.
So, what are some key steps in building your network? Here are a few tips:
- Be very, very clear of exactly your space and be very clear on where you want to go. Identify peers in your industry who can connect you with influencers and seek their guidance.
- Don’t network just to network. Be sure to clearly understand who your target is and where they hang out! Always hang where the decision makers hang!
- Don’t be shy! When you attend meetings, make it a point to introduce yourself to the speaker or the main personalities. Always give them your business card and connect with them in 24 hours or less.
- Use LinkedIn, definitely use LinkedIn! It’s the Facebook for business these days. Do not hesitate to connect with folks and join groups linked to your industry. Try to post valid comments in group discussions and be an active player in connecting with your network.
- Try to do informational interviews with people in your industry. This will help you connect with other influential contacts who know the people you need to know.
- Networking meetings need not be expensive lunches or dinners. The easiest way is to invite like-minded folks for coffee.
- As you learn more through networking, remember to pass on your knowledge and contacts to others seeking your help. Be authentic in your thoughts and ways of sharing knowledge.
- Good networking will help you get great references as you seek a job, a major contract or look for your next promotion.
- Seek “sponsors,” not mentors within and outside your organization. A great sponsor will be able to talk about you to others within and outside your network.
So, Happy Networking! I help business leaders learn how to build and expand their networks through effective networking. So, if you need some help write or call me at any time. This is what I do and I’m open for business!
As always, BE GREAT!