How to build a quality and strong social and professional network.
When it comes to having a social network, there are three types of people that you need to know. The first are those that do not have a social network at all.
The second has a network but lacks a profound connection with the people. The people in the network do not have a strong relationship with this type. In other words, the people in the network forget this type of person as soon as he/she is out of sight.
The third type, which I want you to become, is the kind who is profoundly connected with the people in his/her network, having a strong relationship described by trust, reciprocity, love, friendship, and cooperation.
If your goal is to build a strong professional network, you have to consider having a strong social one first. If you can not connect socially with the people or colleagues you work with, it’s hard to build firm trust with them and get access to all the resources they hold.
Forget the business networking events, conferences, and meetings where you meet new faces in your field of work. In such environments and settings, people keep themselves at their best behavior and do a lot of character management. Some kind of a show they put up.
It is hard to connect on an intimate level when everyone is inhibited. Yet connecting intimately and emotionally is the foundation of building strong networks. You have to be uninhibited, free to laugh and speak your heart without fear of judgment then you can come off as authentic and honest for someone to easily connect with you on a deeper level.
Simon Sinek, author of ‘’Start with Why’’, said ‘’The value of networking is not measured by the number of people we meet but by the number of people we introduce to others’’. If you really want to know why you need a quality network of people, ask yourself how many lives you have changed by connecting them to someone you know.
Then again ask yourself, how many times have you been lucky enough to get what you need through a connection from someone in your network.
One of the ‘’ Working Smart’’ principles is networking and here are the benefits or reasons why you need a quality network of people.
Why you need a quality network of people.
1. Access to private information.
In this information-rich era, everyone has access to basic and general information in any sector or aspect of life. Books are cheaper and with a click, one can access a lot of information on the internet on one subject. However, there is very private information usually kept off the internet, news, or any other public information source.
It is usually this kind of information that puts you ahead of your competition or eases your access to opportunities. If you have a quality network of the right people in your field of interest, you will easily have access to this information either free of charge or at a cost, you can afford.
Stock traders at the wall street network with a lot of company managers to keep track of the financial health of listed companies to easily predict stock prices.
2. Access to diverse skills.
If you spend time with the right people in a quality network, you will easily get access to the skills they hold which you can use to your advantage. A lot of people who have built relationships with their seniors are able to receive mentorship and training to boost their skills.
Others can easily access experts about any prevailing issues. In case you get into a situation that requires help from a lawyer, you will easily call a lawyer friend you know who will definitely do it passionately for you at a cheaper cost or even for free.
No one achieves power without the help of people. Power comes from people. People give power to those they trust. To have people trust you, you have to build a relationship with them. Politicians mastered this.
They may not build a relationship with everyone in their area but will build it with the people everyone trusts like influencers, celebrities, local area leaders, etc. Once people see these other leaders backing one politician, they follow suit. You will therefore achieve a lot of power and authority by building quality networks.
4. A rich social life.
Am writing this article in May, a mental health awareness month. One of the reasons why people sink into depression is a lack of a life outside work, school, or career. Many hate it when the day breaks and they have no one to turn to for a drink, date, dinner, or jokes to laugh at.
When you build a strong and quality network, you never run out of moments to share a good time with friends, family, or colleagues. You have a life outside work or school. It is that life that makes life more meaningful.
5. Business made easy.
You will not build from scratch if you have a quality network of people. It is daunting and hectic having to figure out things on your own. You make a lot of mistakes, lose a lot of time and money and sometimes even fail.
Imagine having an expert in marketing in your network, then another being a financial advisor, then a banker, then an auditor, then a salesperson, etc. If you have such people in your network with profound relationships, you will know who to turn to whenever you need help. Chances are high they will be glad to help you.
6. Social and financial security.
You know the common adage, ‘’your network is your net worth’’. When Donald Trump filed for bankruptcy, it was easy for him to get back up to become a billionaire. One of the things that helped him is his rich network of other millionaires and billionaires.
It’s easy to access support and help when you have a quality network. Many university graduates who pass with very good grades get disappointed when they bump into their counterparts with lower grades, holding high-paying jobs in big companies.
The difference between the two isn’t the grades, it is the kind of network they have. Sometimes good grades alone will not get you where you want to be. Coupled with a quality network, you will go places.
Porter Gale author of ”Your network is your net worth” explains how close the degree of separation from you and what or who you need gets when you build a quality network.
The requirements to build a high-quality network.
Be willing to give something of value to the people you want to connect with or add to your network. Generosity is the language of love. For a friendship to exist, there has to be love. For people to stay long in your network, they have to be friends with you.
You must have something to give. It does not necessarily have to be money or anything luxurious. Jokes, compliments, a surprise call, lunch invites, etc create lasting marks on the hearts of people.
Do not be a leech. Taking without giving is the best way to destroy a good relationship. If you only put yourself in a position to be always taking from people without giving them anything or sometimes taking much more than you receive, you come off as a parasite or user.
People will start to avoid you since no one likes to be used.
3. Trust and honesty.
You most likely get what you give. If you are deceptive in the way you build relationships, very soon people will figure you out and lose trust in you. You will also attract deceptive people who will use the same ways to connect with you.
To build a strong network, you have to build friendships with the people you want. Trust and honesty are part and parcel of quality friendship.
4. Be valuable.
You will easily attract people to your network and retain them if you are financially, socially, physically, and intellectually valuable. It is those values that people appreciate about you.
Work for financial freedom to be less dependent on others for financial help. Look and dress your best, have social skills like listening, storytelling, speaking, caring, etc. Read books, and acquire skills to boost your intellect.
You might feel inadequate when you read this, but with practice, patience and consistency you can acquire these values. When you have a lot of value in you, people enjoy connecting with you. For, they get value from you.
How to build a quality network.
I know you want people to accept and love you the way you are. Love you unconditionally and without judgment. Unfortunately, we live in a world full of inequalities, differences, and diversity. We are not all the same. All these subject us to a way of life that requires us to be receiving and giving.
If I have more of ”A” I will share it with you so that you can share with me ”B” which you have more. It’s a life of transactional relationships. Doing inner work to boost or acquire, values, characters, skills, and material things that impact other lives is a must to build strong networks.
Make yourself more self-reliant, and self-confident, improve your self-esteem and master a valuable skill to become someone other people need in their network. That way you can easily build a network of your own.
Go to the right places.
It is okay to network at corporate gatherings like conferences, meetings, or seminars. However, casual places will bring you faster and more effective results to build your network. In casual places like the golf course, beach, gym, restaurant, bar, etc you meet people when they are less inhibited and more willing to welcome your friendship.
In corporate networking occasions, a lot of character management is done which comes off as superficial. They even keep you within uniform networks called echo chambers where many people of the same expertise or age group network with each other.
This limits opportunities for a diversified network. The more diversified a network gets, the richer it becomes. People regardless of their level of fame, expertise or wealth will easily trust you if they can connect with you emotionally.
Ask for referrals.
It is okay to reach out to your friends, colleagues, and family to connect you to the person you want. Networking can be both spontaneous and intended. There are people you will spontaneously meet and connect with without prior planning.
There are also those you will have to be intentional about connecting with them. Go on and ask for a referral for as long the person in between is trustworthy and has a good relationship with that connection you need.
Make use of your local community.
People naturally love to build cohesion within their communities. Access to one person gives you access to a network of people behind him or her. Therefore, to build a strong network, connect with the immediate people around you. Your colleague, classmate, neighbor, etc.
You can not reach the middle of a lake without connecting to immediate waters. Connecting with your community makes you a social person and a firm member of that community who people trust and feel comfortable with.
Use social media.
Modern times have the blessing of social media. With it, you can connect with all kinds of people from all walks of life. Making use of your social media, especially showing your content will link you to a lot of people. Communicate effectively and make sure you take the relationship with the people you meet online off the internet. You can start by inviting him/her for a coffee date.
One of the most impactful and effective ways of building a strong network is giving. Everyone rich or poor loves to receive. Giving to people will have them appreciate your kindness and want to welcome you into their lives.
Find out the things the person you want to connect with wants. If you are concerned if they will like your gift or service, ask them first and then deliver after. From that, you can build a foundation for a strong friendship to expand your network.
If you want to start a new network on a high, a moment unforgettable and hurt warming, create an experience. Here people with a good sense of humor are at a high advantage. If you are not good at humor, give authentic praise and compliments. Be creative in making a moment for someone new to remember you for.
It can be a treat to a very good meal or an invitation to a unique experience. My friend Ivan introduced me to bungee jumping. When I remember the bungee jumping experience, I definitely have to remember him too.
People greatly attach great experiences to the people involved and go on to intimately appreciate them. creating an experience for a person makes them drop their guard and be open to receiving you into their heart.
Dos of quality networking.
Trying to put up a show when networking will only make people repel you or attract fake friends putting up a show as well. People can instinctually detect deception. Be authentic and let people access your true ideas, emotions, and energy.
Show gratitude and sincerity.
When networking, remember the words, please, sorry, and thank you. These will make you appear kind and respectful.
Be intentional but not awkward.
Show your willingness and intention to network but avoid appearing desperate, overly inquisitive, nervous, or anxious. This will make you appear confident and comfortable with yourself.
Show confidence in yourself, your abilities, and your ideas. In case you know something confidently talk about it. In case you do not, be confident in not knowing by asking. Acting informed about a topic you do not know about will expose you as deceptive.
In case you show interest in someone and they do not respond as expected, respectfully give them their space and do not take it personally. Just like you have your own choices, other people have them too. Respect them and move on.
High expectations lead to disappointment. Create networks but do not expect so much or instant yields. Some of the people you meet today are met to help you a year or years later. If you expect immediate fruits from their friendship and do not get them, you will get disappointed and cut them off.
So expect less and be genuinely interested in them not what they can do for you.
Do not network as though it’s a job or an inevitable task. Do it with joy and passion. Enjoy the process. Let your mind and heart be in it. That way you will give off the best energy to attract great people.
While networking, most people concentrate more on what to say than what other people say. When others are speaking, they are busy thinking of what to say next. The conversation then comes off mechanical or scripted.
Get out of your mind and listen to what others are saying so you do not miss out on important information. That way the conversation will be natural, spontaneous, and enjoyable.
Everybody loves a good compliment. Give those that leave someone smiling or warm their heart. Avoid negative comments about people’s weight, height, or character. Unless it helps them look better like a poorly tied tie knot corrected, keep it positive.
Don’ts when networking.
Do not disclose your intentions.
Never tell a person you are intentionally adding to your network the reason why you are doing it. They will perceive you as a user and a selfish person.
However, when they do something for you, ensure to reciprocate and also show gratitude. They will like you more.
Don’t be desperate.
If someone shows no interest in you, give them the space they need. If you need something from a person in your network, do not show despair when asking them unless they are very close to you.
Do not gossip.
When networking, avoid talking about other people. If you have to, let it be positive gossip.
Do not dominate the conversation.
Unless you are given more time to speak, listen more and speak less. Listening is a charismatic trait.
Do not make it about yourself.
Show interest in other people. Let them talk about themselves and their life. Avoid drawing the conversation back to yourself. Keep it about them until they ask you something about yourself. They will enjoy your company and perceive you as charismatic.
In conclusion, a rich and strong network is an asset you will have that no one can take away from you. In fact, only you can choose to keep it or lose it. Who wouldn’t want such an asset? Its benefits are unlimited because the richer or more quality it gains, the more fruits you reap from it. With a quality network, business, social life, decision making and access to various resources will be easy. I wish you the best network of people you want.