Networking is often one of the areas people struggle with the most when we’re delivering Amazing If programmes. Some people almost shudder when they think about it!
Networking became considerably easier for us when we started to think about it as ‘people helping people’. It shifted the whole thing from being an necessary evil to a way you could proactively add value to people in small ways.
It’s much easier to think to yourself ‘how have I helped someone today’ rather than ‘how have I networked today’ and hopefully it’s causes considerably less shudders.
So, 3 practical things you can do this week to build your network by helping others…..
1) Share something
Read an article or a book, discover a new brand or an interesting YouTube video and then think who would find it of interest. Share the link or the book with them, referencing why you thought of them. Use this contact to create a conversation between the 2 of you, which could lead to a face-to-face meeting. It doesn’t even need to be someone you know, I have done this with people on Twitter that I admire or people involved in networks with an agenda that has meaning to me.
It might look a bit like this…..
Hi xxxxxx. I came across a great app this week that I think you’ll love. It’s called Asana and it makes it really easy to view your teams progress on projects all in one place. It’s saving us a lot of time and it’s free to use. Have a look and let me know what you think! I can show you how we use it at Amazing If if it helps? Speak soon, xxxxxx
2) Recognise & offer
Once you know who the key people are in your network, follow what they are up to. You can do this in person through general conversation, through social media (Twitter and Linked In are particularly good for this) or by setting up Google Alerts so when their name is in the press, you get an email. Use this insight to send them a timely and relevant note recognising their achievement. Go one step further and make an offer to help them.
Here’s an example….
Hi xxxxx. I saw in Fast Company that you’ve just won One to Watch 2015. Amazing news! Well done. I was really interested to read about the big loyalty project you’re working on. It’s something that I have had experience of previously. If I can share any knowledge or lend a helping hand over the next couple of months, do let me know. I’d love to get involved. Best wishes, xxxxxx
3) Be curious
Taking the time to learn from other people’s experiences with no networking agenda, can ironically be a great way to build stronger relationships and development your network. Think about someone in your network who you’d like to build a better relationship with. In this case, it’s better if you’re able to call or meet them. What knowledge or experience have they got that interests you and why? Once you’re clear on that, make the request for a call, a coffee or a meeting to pick their brain. People rarely say no and if they do, they may be willing to recommend someone else to help.
This is a real example that I had last week…
Hi xxxx. As you know, we’re at the early stages of our business launch and I’m working much closer with the Board. I know you’ve had several Board roles and I’d love to pick your brains on how best to engage Board members to use the time most effectively and come across credibly and confidently. Could you share 30 minutes next month over coffee to share your thoughts? I’d really appreciate it. Kind regards, Helen
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