Effective networking is a cornerstone of any flourishing business enterprise. Who you know and who knows you makes all the difference in business success. It’s a good idea to periodically evaluate the quality of our professional network. The first step in this process is actually strategy planning. What do you want your business to look like in 18-24 months? What do you need to do, who do you need to know and who needs to know you so that you will achieve your goals?
Next, think about your professional network. Does it appear that tapping into existing relationships will help you realize business goals? Take stock also of your personal relationships. Which are deserving of your time and energy and which should be put out to pasture? Might it make sense to add a business dimension to a social or family relationship, or add a social dimension to a business relationship that no longer pays professional dividends, but you feel is worth maintaining nonetheless? You may find that some pruning, reconfiguring and strategic additions are in order. Read on and get some inspiration to start the process:
What have they done before and what are they doing now? What is the person’s record of achievements? Is that person continuing to move forward? If one is not growing, then one is falling behind. The value of a given relationship will depend upon your resources, industry and goals. Look to strengthen and develop relationships with those who can open doors and share relevant information. Because relationships are a two-way street, think also of the value that you bring to relationships. Do you come through when you should?
What is the reach? When possible, cultivate relationships with those who have an understanding of and influence in your industry or field of expertise, or with potential clients who can be referred. Someone who can refer you to teaching and speaking engagements that will build you CV and bank account will also be very helpful.
Do they have a positive and progressive attitude? Surround yourself with smart, positive, forward-thinking people, socially and professionally. Divest your network of haters and slackers.
Do they like to collaborate? If you see an opportunity to team up and set in motion a mutual win-win, you’ll need to take the idea to someone who will be open to exploring reasonable options. We all need to have in our networks savvy and creative people who see the big picture and are willing to keep ego in check in order to accomplish something bigger than either could do alone.
Are they responsive? Folks must be willing to return calls and emails within a couple of days or so, barring an emergency, deadline or vacation. When you invest the time and energy to build a relationship, you want to know that efforts at communication will be respected. No matter how awesome someone is, they are of no use to you if they ignore you when you reach out. If they don’t get back, then you know you’re not valued.
Thanks for reading,