“If you’re not appearing, you’re disappearing…”
~ Art Blakey, Legendary Jazz Musician
Networking is all about strategic communications. To increase your chance of success in everything you do, you need to communicate to expand your span of influence. Those that may be able to help you (now or in the future) need to know you and what you have to offer. They need to see you, meet you… hear from you. Although the natural tendency is to remain within your immediate environment, you need to move out of your comfort zone to ensure your own long-term success. If this is not enough to get you moving, think about these fundamental truths:
1. The “new” economy was yesterday. Business cycles do exactly that – cycle… unpredictably. Your current contacts may or may not be on your team moving forward. If you need a job, money, advice, help, hope, or the means to make an important deal, there is only one definite way to succeed – through an extended network of friends and colleagues that span both boundaries and borders.
2. Job security is a relic of the past. Your superior talent and experience will not save you in hard times, but having a strong network to rely on can make your life a whole lot easier. If you do find yourself in a difficult situation, strategic communications across your network could pay big dividends – if you have invested in it appropriately.
3. Business is a fluid, competitive world unto itself. Yesterday’s compatriot is tomorrow’s competitor; tomorrow’s competitor may become your new commander. Building a strategic network both inside and outside of the impermeable walls of your organization is vital. Take the time, expand your horizons, and develop your network from every conceivable angle.
4. Others need to know you. Your relationships and your reputation are the most explicit illustrations of who you are and what you have to offer. If no one knows what you bring to the table, you cannot be mobilized as a game-changing contributor.
Now that you understand why you need to strategically communicate in order to expand your network, here are some rules of networking that you should keep in mind:
It is like (legal) steroids for networks. The more you give your time, money, and expertise (with no stipulations or reservations) to your network, the more opportunity you have to be recognized as the MVP you are.
Never give with the intention of wanting something in return.
Strategically offer your assistance to someone you would like to include in your network, helping the right people perceive that you are loyal and helpful. As a result, they will want to support you.
Identify people that have a high potential to become strategic assets. Be very selective with the types of people you choose to network with in order to save time and to attract the right people. Never forget that you are perceived to be like those you associate with.
Do not lose touch.
Make a list. Each month send a quick email or voice message just to check in and say hello. Once each quarter, make the effort to have lunch, coffee or dinner with the top 10% of your network. By doing this, your network keeps you top of mind as new opportunities surface.
There is no need to maintain an even scoreboard.
Create win-win relationships, ensuring you never enable one-sided interactions. Networking is not about what someone else can do for you, but about how you can serve your extended team. The bottom line: It is far better to strategically give than to receive – NEVER keep score and NEVER refuse to provide assistance. If your interactions are ruled by generosity, the rewards will follow.
Notice that I continually use the word strategically? This is because in order to be intentional, you must plan and be strategic in everything you do – networking included. Think through the repercussions of how you communicate and with whom. Who can you add value to? How can they add value to you? How can you strategically place yourself in someone’s immediate environment? Who do you know that they also know? What could future opportunities look like – for both sides? You need to get out there NOW – strategically identify potential additions to your network and communicate your value as soon as possible.
How can you strategically communicate to expand your network?
You can contact me at Sheri.Mackey@LuminosityGlobal.com or by visiting our website at www.LuminosityGlobal.com. Check back next Thursday for the next installation in the ongoing discussions of Extreme Leaders Across Boundaries & B