A business network is a critical component of your success. You seek out others and build trusting mutually beneficial relationships. You must seek out people relevant to what you do whose values align with your own. This does not mean people just like you. The best networks consist of a variety of people offering you a diverse perspective. The following provides some insight into some fundamental truths about developing a business network. These truths will help guide your way as you either embark on your first networking adventure or seek to improve an existing network.
Creating a Network is Hard Work
Perhaps you think you can shake a few hands, go to a few lunches, and poof, you have your successful business network, you are, well, wrong. Creating a strong, successful network requires a sustained focused effort. Once created the same sustained focused effort is required to maintain the network. Without the work, your network is just a useless net.
Communication is Key
Without effective communication, the network is dead. Think of your network as a spiderweb with fibers reaching in all directions and at the end of each fiber is a network partner. You must effectively communicate with each partner at all times. The rules for effective networking communication are exactly the same rules used for any business or personal relationship. Know your purpose. Know your audience. Be clear in your message. Use the proper tone.
Think Outside Your Business
You can easily fall into the trap of thinking about your network in strictly business terms; however, many professional people may offer advice, ideas, or insight on human behavior. Think about teachers, councilors, and your next door neighbor. Many people outside your business have a unique perspective to offer that can point to unforeseen opportunities. Take advantage of these opportunities, even if no monetary compensation is offered. They may be a unique and valuable learning experience or an opportunity to create something from nothing, and that always gets people’s attention. The rewards may turn out more valuable than money.
Karma, the golden rule, what goes around comes around; There are many cliches that say the same thing. Treat people how you want to be treated. This means that as you go about the work of building your business network take the approach of asking what can I do for you instead of what can you do for me. This type of thinking and action is fundamental to the success of your network. Help others. Look for opportunities to make a positive difference in worthwhile pursuits regardless of whose they are.
As you begin building your network one of the most vital concerns is that you know yourself. You must develop a crystal clear and concise understanding of who you are. You must then use that understanding to create an impressive description of yourself to present to people. Think elevator speech. Don’t be afraid to go big; however, take care to remain authentic.
Always deal honestly. Maintain your integrity. Choose your network connections wisely based on their integrity. The whole idea only works under a blanket of trust. One unsavory actor can wreak havoc and cost you your hard earned reputation. Only offer what you are sure you can deliver. After you deliver what you have promised, follow up.
Resist Feelings of Jealousy or Envy
You should never get caught spending valuable energy focusing on what others are doing. Be happy for their success, and stay focused on your actions. You know you goals so direct your energy toward achieving them
A Website is Vital
Either build one yourself or have one built for you. You must have a website for your business. The website acts as your calling card. People will know where to find out about what you do, how well you do it, and a website is available around the clock.
Networking is about creating a group of contacts. This group will ideally consist of a broad array of perspectives that are relevant to your business. Relevance means you fit each other's purpose. Communicate clearly and often. Be genuinely interested in all people. Have empathy for all people. Listen more than talk. Communication in the busy world is often superficial. Resist this temptation. You must communicate on a deeper level. You will find success if you stand out from the crowd, really care about the success of others, and always act with integrity.
Written by David Fastuca @Locomote