It’s NOT Who You Know
My recent trip to the UK has me thinking about networking. I’ve never really liked the term, it makes pictures of strangers and stress in my head. So I think in terms of meeting people instead.
We live and interact with people. People help, support, and reach out. They interfere, compete, and ignore. Relationships with people can make the road to our dreams easier and the load on shoulders lighter. They can also thwart our plans and fill our heads with dust.
People who know where we want to go and how hard we’re working to get there can be a most powerful force. Love, friendship, camaraderie, influence, credibility, trust, authenticity all add up to relationships.
Every business is relationships and relationships are every one’s business.
When Fewer Is More
A living network is more than a list of contacts or friends that we’ve exchanged cursory messages with. A true network is people who know us and people we trust with our reputation. If we choose them well, our network of influencers expands our knowledge and our reach exponentially further and deeper simultaneously.
Networks like that take time to build and require attention. Two main qualities describe a network that is remarkably powerful.
- A remarkably powerful network is limited in size. Small is flexible and makes it easy to stay closely connected.
- A remarkably powerful network is varied in experience and expertise, but in agreement on high standards of quality in all things.
You might have heard “It’s not what you know, but who you know.”
That’s not exactly true.
Six Steps to a Remarkably Powerful, Personal Network
A living network can open doors and make connections to people we only wish we knew. Follow these six steps to build and care for a living network that will powerfully support you as you move forward in your personal and professional life.
- Know what you know and know its value. What you know is important. Don’t overvalue it. Don’t undervalue it. Simply understand how common or rare your knowledge and your unique skill set are. Know where they are useful and think through who might be delighted to find someone who does what you do.
- Build relationships not an address book. Relationships grow in value and mature with age. They also require time and attention to do so. Choose people you would bet your reputation on — people who share your standards and have similar goals. People who set the bar where you do will connect to other people you’ll want to know.
- It’s about who knows what you know (and who knows what your skills are.) Learn to explain your expertise easily to people who have influence. Influencers naturally talk about folks who are great at what they do. Influencers get asked for recommendations. If no one knows what you do well, it won’t matter who knows you.
- Be the first to offer help. Be interested in everyone you meet. Ask questions, listen actively, and be first to offer a favor without strings. People remember sincere curiosity and true generosity, especially from someone they’ve just met. Every generous act is an opportunity to share your expertise with those who might help you. Do it unconditionally and they’ll remember both the work and you.
- Watch for and welcome every wise teacher you encounter. Wisdom and experience are a prize. True teachers show themselves by offering advice, expecting nothing in return. Mentors who come your way, offering experience and connections, see something in you. Let them help you discover what that is and what it could be if you let it grow.
- Take every opportunity to reach out and to stay connected. Know that listening and speaking with friends is how we keep their interests in our hearts and minds. Stay interested in them and most of them will stay interested in you.
Keeping an eye toward reality and respect is how to develop a remarkably powerful network. This relational group will be a much smaller subset of the network of folks that you know. Still, as they say, we reap what we sow. A network built from relationships that are carefully tended is likely to become a remarkable group of lifelong friends and colleagues.
With a powerful personal network, it seems so much easier to become all our potential will allow.
Sometimes fewer is also more. Are you looking for a few good connections?
–ME “Liz” Strauss
Work with Liz on your business!!