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The Secrets to building a solid Network.

 “I’ve met so many people who have opened doors for me and remained in my life both personally and professionally. After a while, networking doesn’t feel like ‘networking.’ It’s both serendipitous and unpredictable, and something that just naturally becomes part of your work life and your personal life.” – Narcisco Rodriguez, American Fashion Designer.

“If you want 1 year of prosperity, grow grain. If you want 10 years of prosperity, grow trees. If you want 100 years of prosperity, grow people.” – Chinese Proverb.

There is a common saying that the way of the world is meeting people through other people. I agree with this and I doubt that any serious objection can be marshaled against it. We can even confirm this through our personal experiences. Who can say they have not benefited one way or the other by a referral or meeting someone for as long as they’ve lived? Man is a distinctly social creature and often his well-being is dependent on how well he can manage interactions and relationships. This is no different in the realm of business. Networking can generate referrals, increase business, provide opportunities, and provide a support group just to name a few. Hence having a solid network is key to having a successful business. I suspect my last statement is common knowledge but what is not so common is how to go about building a valuable network. If you do not know how to create a valuable network, then you’re in luck because the tips I will be sharing will revolutionize your thinking and if implemented will provide you with the needed network to bolster your business. The secrets I will be sharing are from Steve Babitsky and James Mangraviti, two business gurus with a 30-plus-year track record of running successful businesses that are profitable year in and year out. So let’s get right to it!

  • Give referrals and do favors
The first secret to building a solid network is by giving referrals and doing favors. Always be on the lookout for opportunities or connections you know can benefit people in your circle, and make sure you share it with them. An example of this could be someone who’s gotten a more lucrative employment and is looking for someone to replace him or her at their place of work. You could recommend a client or someone in your circle who is qualified for the position. Maybe you happen to come across a job that is not in your area of specialization, rather than flat out rejecting it, you could recommend someone you know. Acting this way, giving out information costs you nothing and the payoff can be quite rewarding. Furthermore, going out of your way to do favors for people will endear you to them, and they will be more than happy to reciprocate the gesture in future.

  • Send Gifts
The second secret to building a loyal network is by sending gifts. In the popular movie Finding Forrester, the main protagonist William Forrester played by Sean Connery in an iconic scene utters these words to his ward “the key to a woman’s heart is an unexpected gift at an unexpected time.” While this statement is very true in the realm of romance, the power of gifts goes beyond that sphere. But for sending gifts to be effective it has to be done like William Forrester said, the gift has to come at an unexpected time. The time most people get gifts is during the holidays, festive seasons or on anniversaries. There is nothing really wrong in sending gifts at these times, but the problem is that this is the period most people choose to send gifts. For instance, if you have a client that also patronizes other businesses, you can be sure that your competitors will be sending gifts at these periods. In order to stand out, it will be best to send your gift at another time when they are not swarmed by gifts. Then the first part of his statement “an unexpected gift” is best interpreted to mean a thoughtful gift. The gift need not be expensive but it must be carefully selected. It must be something that will resonate deeply with the recipient, this requires knowledge of the recipient’s likes and dislikes. Sending a thoughtful gift at an unexpected time is sure to leave an indelible impression.

  • Be a Mentor
The third secret is mentoring. Mentoring is simply teaching or transferring experience to the uninitiated. Here, you the mentor provides advice, technical knowledge, and guidance to someone less experienced. We see this all the time with people learning a trade. They first start off with someone who has been in that line of business for a long time, then eventually when they are ready they branch off. The mentee goes to work putting all the valuable knowledge gained form the mentor and keeps in contact from time to time. It goes without saying this is an excellent way to build a network. All the people you mentor are already part of your network, and in the future, if a need arises they will be more than willing to lend a helping hand.

  • Ask for help the right way
The last secret is knowing how to ask for help. Yes, there are right and wrong ways to ask for help, also these could make or mar business relationships. The first unwritten rule to asking for help from your network is to make your request simple and easy for the recipient to comply. Make your request as easy and as efficient as possible, doing so will increase the likelihood of a positive response. The second is do not ask for too much. Always ask for something that is likely to be within a person’s comfort zone. Third, understand that relationships are symbiotic. Don’t make it a habit that the only time you are calling a contact is when you are asking for help. Instead make a habit of sending emails and making phone calls to people in your network, ask of their families and how they are faring. If you can, always offer assistance in whatever way they may need.

In conclusion, remember that networking is a force multiplier. By giving referrals, mentoring, offering unsolicited gifts and knowing how to ask for help not only can you help strengthen your business but you can also find some measure of personal fulfillment. 

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