Those who are successful at the networking game know that it’s not about selling yourself. It’s about providing value to others.
I’ve often spoken about the importance of curating one’s network instead of collectingit. This simply means cultivating relationships that are not only useful to the curator, but valuable to others as well.
The ideal network is one that is self-sustaining. In other words, full of people that can contribute to one another in a number of ways such as professional development, community involvement, friendships, referrals to clients, referrals to other referral sources, professional and personal support, high-level guidance, etc. If curated properly, nurtured relationships yield other valuable connections, and so on.
An easy way to begin to thoughtfully organize relationships is to set your sights on creating a “stable” of resources. The process looks like this:
1) Take a look at your current network, paying attention to gaps in resources. An example of this might be ensuring that you have a handful of advisory professionals (attorneys, CPAs, financial folks, etc.) that can provide sage guidance to you and your contacts.
2) Once you take an inventory of where you are light on resources, make a list of professions/verticals that would be complementary to you and your current relationships (marketing, technology, finance, consulting, real estate, construction, etc.).
3) Start strategically searching for qualified contacts to invite to your stable. LinkedIn is one of the best places to do this. Search for professionals, check out their profiles, invite them to connect and then personally reach out (call, meeting, etc.).
4) Your first conversation should be focused 100% on what you can do for them.How can you help them? It could be growing their business, referring a good babysitter or hairdresser, sharing parenting advice, recommending a good employment prospect, etc. Remember, this new relationship is not about you.
Welcome someone into your stable by demonstrating your value.
5) Once someone becomes part of your network, think of ways in which you can best integrate them into your established relationships. Make introductions, share content, suggest ideas.
6) Curating one’s network is a fluid process and therefore requires consistent review for opportunities–and dead weight. Maintaining a solid “rolodex” of authentic relationships will become your calling card, so be sure to treat it with the delicacy and attention it deserves.
When was the last time you evaluated your stable?
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