YOUR NETWORK EQUALS YOUR NET WORTH!.
We all have goals. We all want to go or get somewhere? A very few can do it on their own; but the majority cannot… help is needed!
That help starts with your professional network. The members of your professional network can open doors for you and, likewise, you can open doors for them. However, this only works if you know something about the members of your network and they know something about you.
Clinging to the Past
People cling to the practices and excuses of the past when it comes to networking. Yesterday’s Rolodex of connections has been replaced by lists of connections in one or more Social Media applications.
When we meet someone new we continue to collect and file business cards, but we may also look to connect using one or more of the following:
- Social Media applications;
- Contact managers;
- or Email address books.
The problem is that using today’s tools in the same manner that we used the tools of the past; we miss out on the functionality and benefits of the new technology. Networks, whether a Rolodex or card file, were typically organized alphabetically. Today’s tools default to an alphabetical organization, but there is much more. You can search by organization, by title, by location, and much more. You simply need to know how the tool works.
99% of Professional Networks Are Bankrupt
These people are bankrupt when it comes to their Professional Network because they have not taken time to understand the power available or taken the time to implement the advanced features.
When they need the help of their Professional Network they are not prepared.
- They do not have the necessary knowledge of their connections to know who can help.
- They do not have the organization to find their connections with certain skills or necessary knowledge.
- They haven’t taken the time to get to know even the most basic of information about their connections; and
- Have not taken the time to educate their connections on their own skills and abilities.
As a result their Professional Network is bankrupt because it cannot serve the needed purpose.
Know Your Network; Increase the Value
In the past having not only knowledge, but current knowledge, of your network was a difficult process. You had to be in constant contact just to know their current physical location and a method of contact.
Today, with Social Networking, the process has become much easier. In fact, we now have the ability to connect with people from many years ago because of the Social Media search capabilities. We also have our connections maintaining their own information.
With the advent of Social Networks the old excuses of:
- It’s too time-consuming;
- It’s too hard;
- There is no effective way to keep it current;
- I don’t know where my contacts are anymore;
- My network is large enough.
are just not valid.
Knowing the people in your network allows you to connect the dots. If you need a contact into an organization; chances are someone in your network will have or will be able to lead you to a connection.
The Importance of Knowing the People in Your Network
For example I recently found someone on LinkedIn that I wanted as a connection on LinkedIn. My goal was a meeting to discuss how I might help the organization. The individual was my second level connection meaning that one or more individuals in my network is directly connected to my target. I contacted Ed, the mutual connection, to learn whether he knew my target. It turns out that Ed knows my target connection well and is happy to help.
As I talked about my interest I also asked Ed about his new business.
Connecting the Dots…
During the conversation I realize that Ed is working with a similar customer set as my friend Jake. As I connected the dots it makes sense for Ed to meet Jake to better understand markets, but also to see what synergy exists.
From Jake’s perspective his company is always looking for acquisitions that compliment and grow their business; maybe there is an opportunity there for the two businesses: maybe it’s a merger or a joint venture. I don’t know, but I am starting the process to see what might be able to develop for their businesses.
Does this introduction add anything to me; not necessarily, but Ed and Jake may look more favorably upon me as a result and in the future that may be of value.
Successful networking and the ability to help each other starts with knowledge of what each person brings to the table. Although this may appear to be a daunting task, especially if you have 1000s of connections, there are ways to make it easier.
Three Tips to Aid in Knowing Your Network
Here are three tips to aid in classifying your network.
- Be selective in who you INVITE into your network;
- Use Malcolm Gladwell’s categories from “The Tipping Point”;
- Mavens; and
- Create a short 3 – 5 question survey for those you invite to learn more about them and add it to your notes about the individual.
If you network is simply an accumulation of names; it’s not too late to turn it around. Start a classification system to identify your connections. Look for and then classify based upon similarities of position, industry, business, location, or other common factors that are relevant to you. Spend 15 minutes a day in this process and you WILL be able to increase the value of your network.
When you add new connections classify them immediately or, if necessary, send your list of questions to help with the classification process. The important thing is don’t let your network to continue growing without implementing a structure and some controls.
Tom Staskiewicz speaks and coaches on Professional and Business Networking and how Social Media is a tool in that process. He helps businesses, organizations, and individuals understand the power of networking and recognize that networking is a tool for giving.
Tom believes that when you give value to your network; your network will give value back to you. Using today’s Social Media tools makes Professional and Business Networking more efficient, improves decisions, and enables you to respond more effectively to your audiences.
Do you want to be more effective with your Professional and Business Networking? Would you like to be making more “warm” contacts instead of “cold” calls? Contact Tom to learn more about how he can help you and/or your organization reach your networking goals.