We’ve heard it time after time: your network determines your net worth. I am a firm believer in this since, in order to create powerful linkages, to create new business opportunities and to grow your organization, a good network serves a great purpose. It doesn’t really matter what your endgame is; good networks are built on common values and goals. But how do you go about building one?
If you’re in sales, this is relatively easy. You seek a person out, get contact details and then ask for a meeting. In that meeting, you listen more than you speak. You hear about the person’s vision for their business, where they wish to go in the future and perhaps even a little about their personal life. After that, you follow up with a thank you message, a future invitation to coffee or a little lunch and then you get to know each other better. The more you show this person you care, the more the person begins to care, too.
But what if you’re not in sales? It may be a bit more difficult to randomly call someone and ask to meet. This is where events like Chamber of Commerce meetings, Town Hall meetings and even signing up for a club like Toastmasters, Kiwanis or Rotary can help. After all, the main goal of many of these meetings is to bring people together for a common cause.
In this day of social media, it is also very easy to join certain groups. Want to lose weight? Join Weight Watchers! Want to talk about books? Join an online book club. The possibilities are endless. So, if you’d like to get to know people better, add them as a friend and reach out to them. If you’re an introvert, this is perhaps the easiest way to try making contacts. Of course, once you get to know them better virtually, you must actually reach out to them physically.
When you begin to build your network, you can become a connector. A connector is a very powerful person, who can ‘connect’ others with those they wish to reach. For example, you know Paul and I would like to get to know Paul, too. You tell Paul about me and we all go to have drinks together. Paul and I are now connected, because of you. Both Paul and I see you in this scenario as the person who has brought us together. Think about a married couple: if someone introduced them, they always remember that person, not so? It’s the same principle when it comes to connecting others so that they can expand their network.
I have found in networking that if the focus is more on friendship, rather than trying to get something from the other person, that it is a more powerful bond. Always show gratitude in the relationship and remember that the person on the other side – just like you would be to them – is of immense value to your network.
(Veoma Ali is an advertising executive with a Ph.D in Communications and a Master’s in Business Administration.)