Every day we hear about networking. Whether it’s through Facebook, Linkedin, Google+, Twitter, or more traditional face to face networking, we almost all do it. But why? There is obvious social, personal, and business value to networking, but I want to focus on business. To me, a network has zero value unless it is actionable. What do I mean by actionable? An actionable network is one that you can go to with confidence when you need a job, promotion, advice, friendship, or recommendation. I truly believe that it is the quality of our relationships—not the quantity—that will set our network apart. So, how do you build and obtain value from an actionable network? Many of the things I will discuss are common sense, age-old truths (such as do unto others as you would have them do unto you), or come from well-known books (such as How to win friends and influence people).
Give First, Give More
-To build an actionable network, you must go in with the mindset that you are going to give more than you receive. Don’t be a leech; you will quickly suck the value of your network dry.
-What can you give? Time, Knowledge, Money, Empathy, Hard work, Contacts, Jobs, Recommendations
Respect your network
-Respect their Time-Remember that everyone in your network has their own problems and responsibilities. Don’t waste their time and always give something in return
-Respect their Privacy-Your network should be treated like a prized possession. Be careful who you share your network with, and protect your key contacts from leeches.
Regular, Relevant contact
-The meaning of regular may differ for each connection in your network. I have a core group of contacts I make sure to talk with every month, but with most of my contacts, I reach out quarterly or semi-annually
-Relevant contact could include sending an article or link related to their business/industry, birthday and Christmas letter, response to their requests, introductions to members of your network, lunch, or golf.
-Don’t reach out only when you need something
Build your Value to the Network
-People will want to connect with you as you become more valuable to the network and are an actionable player in those networks. The following will help you increase your value to the network:
-See 1 and 2 above
-Expanding your Professional Experience
-Hard work, performance, execution
-Bring your Actionable Network to the table
-Once you have built an Actionable Network, you can have the confidence to reach out to them when you are in need