If you read enough blogs about any category of business one word is common throughout, “networking”. The term is so ubiquitous that it has nearly lost its meaning, however its ubiquity is indicative of its absolute importance to the success of any business endeavor.
Below are some tips on how you can network your way to earning one million dollars.
1. Network without networking
Bear with me…networking is as important to business as breathing is to life. That being said, you do not sustain life by going around breathing as hard as you can all of the time. Constant and natural breathing is the key to health as continual and natural networking is to business. Do not go to ‘networking’ events, it’s basically speed-dating and just like speed-dating, it doesn’t work, no matter what your friend, who has a friend, who knows someone for whom it worked, says. Focus on recognizing opportunities to use your skills to help others and building on the relationships these opportunities create. Don’t come on too strong, desperation has an odor and it isn’t pleasant. If you want to build your business through networking, slow and steady wins the million-dollar race.
2. Forgo Tangible for Intangible Assets
Living within your means is not just sound life advice, it works for business too. Building a profitable business will help you achieve your goal of earning a million-dollars but you can’t put money in the bank if you are putting it into a new car, shoes, etc. Save your money and look for other ways to build your wealth-building arsenal. When you network, be open to recognizing which people can offer you lasting value through advice, services, or further networking. Listen for ideas worth saving, whether they are useful now or may come in handy when you are further along in your quest for success.
3. One Person at a Time
So, we have determined that we need to network without networking and use that network to mine people and ideas which boost us toward our business and, ultimately, financial goals. How does one bring a person of value solidly into one’s network? The answer is very simple: one person at a time. No one likes to feel like one of a million, but everyone likes to feel like one-in-a-million. When you do meet someone, take the time to really connect with them, to listen, to respond thoughtfully and in a friendly manner. You may meet someone you don’t think can help you, but through conversation you may discover that they are infinitely valuable to you, or that you offer them something that they need and earns you money or (better yet) a solid reputation.
4. What Goes Around Comes Around
Building equity through your network takes time and skillful navigation. Although you shouldn’t be too concerned with tangibles (see tip #2), you do need to make your money work for you. You can use the cash you have now to build network equity by strengthening relationships through employee bonuses, forgoing all or part of a commission on a sale, or offering discounts to people or businesses you would like a long-term relationship with.
5. Use Your Manners
In today’s world of constant contact, we sometimes forget to make the effort to reach out to someone. When one does reach out, in business, it can often be because they need something from someone. Instead, surprise your contacts with an email or phone call just to say thank-you and remind them of how important the relationship is to you. Up your game by buying actual post-cards and sending them out. Just a few reach-outs a week can keep you in the loop and at the forefront of someone’s mind when an opportunity comes along.
6. Choose Your Network Wisely
Utilizing your network to expand your contacts and build business relationships based on needs, goods, and services is key, but it is also important to ensure that your network is healthy. If a network is full of grumpy, negative, or self-serving people, it is sick and cannot last. Contrarily, a network full of energetic and positive people who look to help each other while building profitable businesses is one that perennially refreshes itself and lives on. Be sure that you surround yourself with people who inspire and energize you. Business is tough, and having a healthy network to rely on during down times can make a huge difference in success versus failure. But remember, what goes around comes around, so you need to also be an inspiration to your network.
7. Weave for Others
Although you do not want to be “that guy” as we mentioned in our first tip, you do want to be “that other guy”, the one who is always ready to make, but not force, a connection. Part of this requires that you make connections not just for yourself but for and between others as well. Again, the dating scenario applies. You may not be the Mr./Mrs. Right for someone, but you might know the person who is, so introduce them! By connecting people to each other you begin to create other networks, which can function as satellites of your network or grow into parts of the whole.
8. Keep It Real
As time goes on and your network grows you may find yourself introduced to people who hold a certain status within the community and your industry. These people wield power and are very valuable, but just as you should not collect “things” you should not “collect” these people. Instead, cultivate a relationship with them as you have with the other members of your network. Putting these power-players on a pedestal instantly places you beneath them. You need to be seen as an equal and to be seen as such, treat them as an equal. This is the situation in which desperation/over-excitement smells the strongest and most rancid. Just be yourself.
Networking is the oxygen that feeds the fire of business. Just like a fire, it needs to be properly tended. Use these tips to increase your networking prowess and blaze your way to financial success!
Image courtesy Michel Banabili
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