In the past we have discussed networking as a method of marketing our businesses to others who we may not know or even those who are just casual acquaintances. Recently, I chatted with someone who looked upon networking as simply a means of building their client list and nothing more. This is a very shallow outlook to which you should never fall victim.
Last week we discussed our peers who do not want us to succeed in our lives past the levels that they themselves have reached. They don’t encourage us to try new methods of moving our business past the levels that it has attained, nor do they look beyond the now, or present, in their evolution of their businesses or lives. They have always seen themselves as being at their current level of success or don’t have the courage to move themselves into the realm of hard work, self improvement, or taking advantage of the examples of others.
Networking should be about forming relationships with other people, people with whom we share common objectives, attitudes, and thoughts. Networking may also be where we meet others from whom we may learn and receive advice about our lives and businesses. Networking is about learning; learning may involve receiving ideas about our business operations, our marketing methods, our personal lives, or any of many other topics. Everyone that we meet may teach us something, good or bad, about life.
When we begin networking and marketing ourselves and our businesses to others we meet people of all levels of success, people who have different agendas and opinions, and people with varying personalities or mentalities. You must decide who you are, what your intent in networking is, and with whom you want to network. Just because you meet someone at a networking event does not mean that they have your best interest in mind or that they are someone with whom you want to form a relationship. Different networking partners may result in different networking relationships.
Everyone that you meet will not become a client; everyone that you meet may not have something that you need or want. Everyone that you meet may not be someone from whom you should take advice; everyone that you meet may not be someone whom you should trust. You should form relationships with all types of people; clients, prospects, family, friends, and casual relations may be networking partners. Your networking partners should be those whom you know, like, and trust. These are the people who will become clients, offer referrals, or provide advice to which you should listen. They should have your best interests at heart and not be jealous of your success; they are your partners in success.
Does this network remain the same over time? It must grow, expand, contract, or change as time passes and as new partners enter it or others leave for various reasons. You should be proud of these relationships, and your partners should be proud of the relationship with you. It should be mutually beneficial in some way, shape, or means, not just a way for you to expand your client list. Your networking partners will offer advice before you request it; you may reject their advice, but don’t fault them for offering it.
What does your network look like; is it growing, and does it contain the right mix of partners? Are your partners proud to have you in their network? Leave me your comments about your network, or call me at 360-314-8691, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com. Networks are work to maintain, but they should be fun and rewarding. They should be living, breathing groups of people who give, receive, and repeat whatever that benefits their partners.
My network is always growing and will never be complete. I do have my "favorites" I like to refer to: photographer, graphic designers, and even other web designers (who focus on a different market than I do). I actually have more web designers that I refer to than any other industry - that makes it easy for me to focus on the type of website I excel at. People should not fear networking with other people that are in the same industry - it is quite freeing.