~by Maria Marc~
Success is not a matter of luck but a matter of effort. It is often said that if you work hard, success will just come to you, yet that is not always true. If you want your business to be successful, you will need to network for success.
Although effort is a must-have ingredient for success, it won’t get us far enough unless we have a plan and great people to inspire, guide and support our efforts.
“No man is an island”!
In simple terms, it is important we identify our mentors and sponsors. Mentors are usually people who we admire and respect, and they are usually many steps ahead of us in the direction we want to take.
Sponsors are a little different, says Kathy Caprino; “they do all the things a mentor does but they have power and influence at the organization or in the field that you want to be in… their power can help you, they can pull you up, they can identify in you great talent, great potential. And they have influence and they can connect you and open doors and introduce you to people and pull you up.”
But how can we use networking beyond just business? How can we turn a brief encounter into a real, long-lasting and mutually beneficial relationship?
It is not all about having the perfect ‘elevator pitch’ at every network event we attend… it’s about building trust.
“Rightly understood, networking is a way of living your life with integrity, helping others, and benefiting in proportion to the amount you do and the way you navigate the world… networking isn’t just about growing your business; it’s about expanding your life with the kind of interesting people you’d like to surround yourself with”, says Dorie Clark (2015).
Since the quality of our business and life is strongly influenced by the people we know, Dorie Clark (2015) developed a roadmap to better networking:
1. Build a networking mindset – be positive, start slow, find common ground for discussion, don’t overlook small talk, add value to the conversation you engage in.
2. Connect at events – evaluate the cost-benefit analysis by attending only events you like, create your own events when possible, maximize your time at any event, connect deep instead of wide, make big events work for you by choosing to participate.
3. Connect online with like-minded people – use social media to attract like-minded people, follow them, read their blogs, develop connections over time, create your own content, interview people you admire.
4. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable
5. Plan ahead if you are an introvert – prior to any event, get lots of sleep, create a connection goal, skip the big parties for one-on-one kind of connections.
6. Keep in touch – prioritize, set a schedule, launch a newsletter, invite your connections to hang out with you when traveling to a particular city.
7. Repair damaged relationships – apologize, respond quickly, give honest compliments and ask for advice, examine your own behavior and strive for self-improvement, connect even when the conflict won’t go away by learning to speak tactfully.
8. Create your own luck – adopt an attitude of humility, curiosity and optimism, take an authentic interest in others, embrace diversity.
9. Become a connector – make introductions, connect people over a meal, make sure connections provide value to both parties.
Networking is a give and take kind of exchange, and not a ‘quid pro quo’ for people who are more concerned about getting than giving.
“When you make a bigger difference, you become someone who everyone wants to be around” (Clark, 2015).
Meet the Author: Maria Marc
Maria recently launched her own consulting practice, www.OptimummCoaching.com, through which she offers support in the areas of organizational change, continuous improvement and career transition.
Learn more about Maria: http://leadershipgirl.com/about-maria-marc/
Maria is a regular contributor for Leadership Girl.