The power of relationships is the greatest factor in determining the success of an individual, according to Keith Ferrazzi and Tahl Raz, the authors of Never Eat Alone. To succeed, we must network. We all know “that guy” at the cocktail party who shakes your hand while looking over your shoulder for a bigger fish. That is not the networking we will be discussing in this post and the posts to follow.
True networking, as it is really intended, is about connecting with people on a personal level. To succeed, you need to be likable, provide information and guidance, and also seek information and guidance.
Be likeable: People do business with people they like
You can show up at the local Chamber of Commerce event, corner somebody, tell them about what you are selling, hand them a card, and maybe, just maybe, they will call. It’s not likely, though, because pitching someone is different than building a relationship. You want others to like you, and for others to like you, you need to:
- Focus on them not on you
- Be authentic
- Be very generous (time, talent, and treasure)
- Show up consistently
- Speak well of others
- Build trust
Provide information and guidance
When requests come your way, share what information you know and provide guidance. Don’t expect all favors to be repaid. Try not to keep score, Ferrazzi says. It’s a negative and energy-draining pursuit. Help others for the sake of helping. Make a point to introduce two people in your network to each other where a business need or friendship might develop. The more you share your network, the more rewards you and your connections will reap.
Seek information and guidance
If you’re generous with others, they will likely be generous with you. Go to your network with an issue (business or personal) that needs a second set of eyes. Maybe the non-profit board that you sit on needs somebody to look at a contract for deed. This is a perfect opportunity to reach out. You need help, and, in the process, you can help out a member of your network.
Your network is the first place you can/should go when searching for a job for yourself, too. However, the time to build a network is BEFORE you need the job.