Today, I’m going to introduce you to the basics of networking effectively. Because after meeting over 1,000 agents and professionals in the last three years, I’ve heard and seen many network inefficiently, and when it comes to building a network that can increase sales and generate referrals, their efforts are not effective.
Now, before I begin, if you want to become a networking powerhouse, I highly recommend this book, by Judy Robinett, “How to be a Power Connector: The 5+50+100 Rule for Turning Your Business Network Into Profits.” Here we go.
Building a network
First, let’s start with the benefits of effectively building a network:
- The more people you know, the easier it is to get access to products, services, information, money and other connections.
- A network can help you achieve your personal and professional goals.
- Providing value to your network makes you feel good and can give you more gratitude.
- Strategic relationships are a sustainable competitive advantage to protect your business from competitors who might have a bigger staff and more money.
Second, let’s highlight some of the common problems I’ve noticed with how professionals currently build their network.
Note: I’ve included the common phrases I’ve heard from rookies that demonstrate how they think and why they’re not getting the results they want. And then, I’ve juxtaposed it against the phrases I hear from the masters of networking who are building a network that helps them increase sales and generate referrals.
You have a very superficial view of networking
Rookie: “I need to know more people, and more people need to know me.”
Master: “I want to get to know what people do, what people need and what people like.”
You have a selfish mindset about your network
Rookie: “My network is useful to me.”
Master: “My network is useful to others.”
You have a closed network
Rookie: “I don’t share my connections and network.”
Master: “I want to share my connections and network to help other people achieve their goals.”
You lack a strategy to build your network
Rookie: “I’ll naturally meet people when I’m out and about. I’m sure to meet people at my kid’s school and local events. And naturally, my network will grow.”
Master: “I have a plan for who I want to meet, how I’m going to meet them, why I’m going to meet them and what I’m going to do and say when I first meet them. I will make sure that my network grows.”
You lack a quantifiable goal
Rookie: “I want to have a big network.”
Master: “I want to get to know 150 people this year who know me, like me, trust me and want to help me out because I did something for them.”
You don’t track their progress
Rookie: “I know I meet lots of people, and as long as I continue to get out there, my network will grow, and I’ll get more clients and referrals.”
Master: “I have 30 weeks left this year and have built relationships with 24 people. Therefore, I need to add value to 126 people to reach my goal of 150, which is 4.2 people per week. And if 50 percent of them become fans, and my turnover rate is seven years, then I expect to get at least nine new clients directly and 27 referrals.”
You don’t have an item of value to offer a new connection on the first interaction
Rookie: “I’ll just say hello and get to know them a bit. Then I’ll tell them what I do, give them a business card and ask for referrals.”
Master: “First, I get my item of value ready. Second, I give it to them as soon as I say hello. Third, I spend time getting to know them. Finally, I let them know how I can continue to help them in the future. And if they ask about me, great. If not, that’s OK.”
You don’t consistently add value during the follow-up
Rookie: “I’ll call my network a couple of times a year so they can hear my voice and send them cards during the holidays.”
Master: “Whenever I have information to share, I give it right away. When I believe that two people should meet, I connect them right away. My goal is to add value once a month for my top 150 contacts.
The irony of building a network
If you think about building a network, you’re probably going to fail. Why? Because you’re thinking about you first.
The way to build a network for yourself is to focus building a network for others.
Because what is the reciprocal to connecting people? People will want to connect you.
Getting your mind right to network effectively
- To have a useful network, you must be useful to the people in your network.
- To easily and consistently build a network, you must have fun meeting people.
- For people to be genuinely interested in helping you, you must be genuinely interested in helping them.
How to get started
- Make a list of all the people who want to build relationships with. You want a variety of people in your network and high quantities of people within the areas that matter to you most.
- Make a list of all the people you have relationships with who you want to strengthen. Be selective. Who do you know that is trustworthy and reliable, and who can help you elevate to another level in life?
- Write down how much time a week you are committed to building relationships and giving value to others.
- Commit to a multiyear plan. It takes time to build a robust and useful network.
The fundamentals of networking effectively
- If you reach out to someone to connect, you’ll get a result. If you reach out to someone in your network and have them recommend someone you should connect with, you’ll get better results.
- When a current contact in your network does recommend you to connect with someone new, whenever possible, get that current contact to introduce you to the new contact (via email, phone or in person).
- Think unconditionally. Be generous unconditionally. Give value unconditionally. Be genuinely interested unconditionally. The law of reciprocity will act in your favor when you do not expect anything directly in return.
- When you’re with someone, always be thinking, “Who can I introduce this person to?”
- When you’re by yourself, working on your network, always ask yourself “What two people can I introduce to each other?”
- Don’t wait to meet someone who can benefit a person in your network, when you can strategically and actively go out and connect with someone who will benefit a person in your network.
- Join volunteer organizations, sports teams and cultural institutions because they allow you access to build relationships with people at many different levels of success, status and influence.
- Always initiate relationships by giving value first, thus setting the stage for an ongoing chain of giving and receiving. Items of value can be:
- An article they would find helpful
- An introduction to someone they might benefit from
- A hand written thank you note
- A product or service that helps them achieve a personal or professional goal
- Consistently add value as much as possible throughout the year. The follow-up is not to say hello, it is to give value. And the follow-up is not something scheduled. It is as soon as you have something or someone of value to give.
I hope you enjoyed this beginner’s guide to building a network that will help you increase sales and generate referrals.
What you’ll also notice are some other perks to building a network based on giving value. I know I get freebies all the time from people I’ve helped!
Hopefully, you now notice that this article is an item of value that you can share with the people that you think will benefit from this information.
So who do you know that wants to build a bigger network?
Who do you know has a business that wants to grow?
Share this with them — right now.
And commit, today, to giving value to as many people as possible.
Grant Findlay-Shirras is the CEO of Parkbench.com and the Local Leader Real Estate Marketing System. Follow Grant on Instagram and Twitter @MrParkbench.