A good friend asked me what all this “NETWORKING TALK” was about. I told him to check out the below post… he laughed, read it twice, and hasn’t asked me another question about networking in a year. Read it for yourself and let me know what you think.
Most large companies start out as small companies — even Walmart started as a thought in the mind of Sam Walton. Getting from here to there requires time, effort, planning and a little luck. Some business leaders focus their planning on how to grow the company, without planning for how essential networking (internally and externally) is to their success.
It’s Not Who YOU Know, It’s “Who Knows YOU!”
One of my favorite co-workers says this phrase at least twice every week. I didn’t fully appreciate it’s power until I got into my current role in August.
Get rid of the guilt
Through my entire professional working career I have tried to build strong relationships with my bosses, co-workers, and clients. Yet, I never really tried to leverage these relationships to birth new opportunities. I always felt that it may backfire and hurt my existing relationship(s). I also felt kind of guilty asking for help from people.
It wasn’t until I reached out to an old friend in hopes of helping a person I had just met that I saw the TRUE power of networking.
What are the benefits of Networking?
Networking with purpose can save you tons of time, make you lots of friends, and open countless doors. I won’t even attempt to give a comprehensive list of all the things that can birth out of networking. I’ll just say that a co-worker of mine just got back from Philadelphia because he had box seats to a Colts/Eagles game that he received from someone his wife met through networking! They couldn’t go themselves and wanted to give them to someone who would use them. Think, those tickets could have been offered to you if you were in the same network, lol.
How to Network
On an average day I come in contact with at least four or five people that I didn’t know before. Many of these chance encounters are coupled with conversations… How many times have you sparked a conversation with a person but never wrote down their name or got their business card? Even worse, you didn’t even give them your business card. Probably too many times to count. Each of these meetings were missed opportunities to build your network. If you are aggresively networking your goal should be to add at least two people to your network each and every day.
Who’s in your network?
Of course you start with immediate family, extended family and then friends. From there you build out to old classmates, previous co-workers, current co-workers, bosses, etc. If you are drawing a blank, stop and take some time to write down every job you’ve ever had. After creating this list, start to fill in the names of as many people as you can remember. If you stumble upon someone that you really had great rapport with in the past then it is time to set up a lunch, grab a cup of coffee, or make a phone call. Don’t ask for anything. Just get the lines of communication reestablished and catch up.
Sam Walton built his network by building his employee base. Sam believed that “individuals don’t win, teams do.” Thus he made all his employee stock holders in his success (by making them stockholders in his dream, Walmart). How many people have you invited to be stockholders in your personal and professional success? Who have you asked for advice? What wise person(s) have you told about your dreams? If there is someone, have you taken the time to show proper gratitude? Have you recently told your most influential uncle, “I appreciate your help?” If not, it is time to make that happen. Stockholdersalways receive dividends.
Never leave loose ends. If you are serious about strategic growth then you need to get serious about relationship building. People who know you, have invested in your dreams, and are willing to support you will continue to hold you up even if more traditional planning fails.
For further reading on this topic click the link below.