Well, I for one have increased my network with at least one person this month… the arrival of our son! Thanks to all for the well wishes received – our little family network are enjoying getting to know each other!
There is an argument that the more connections you have, the more influential you become. Consider this quote from Tom Peters, author of In Search of Excellence one of the most influential business management and organisational practice books of its’ time when it was published in the early 1980’s. He said:
“Your power is almost directly proportional to the thickness of your rolodex and the time you spend maintaining it. Put bluntly the most potent people I’ve known have been the best networkers. They ‘know everybody from everywhere’ and have just been out to lunch with most of them.”
So, let’s move that theory forward into 2015 by:
- Losing the rolodex
- Considering whether the size of your database or connections or business card collection is an indicator of your level of influence among your networking circle.
We have moved from ‘it’s not what you know it’s who you know’ and as I always remind our clients, ‘who knows you’ and most importantly ‘who is promoting you’! From the business world through to daily life. While one of the elements of networking most definitely embraces the concept of how many people you are connected with, it is the scaffolding of quality connections that keeps a networking house of (business) cards from falling in a heap.
Andy Ellwood is a digital entrepreneur and writes for Forbes Magazine. He recently spoke of his networking strategy where he only takes one business card to a networking event and gives it to the first person he interacts with. His reasoning is that it doesn’t matter if someone has his business card or not. What matters is that he has their details if he has decided they are worth having.
As a result, he doesn’t end up with a pile of business cards either.
“Think about it. The moment you hand your business card over is the moment they feel like they’ve done the polite thing in accepting it,” Andy says.
“But now they don’t have to respond in kind and we all know for a fact that they’re not going to call me the next day to say ‘Great to meet you, can you come and sell me something this afternoon?’”
Andy connects with a person, decides whether there is potential in the connection and then grabs their contact details by entering it there and then into his phone. He then follows it up with a phone call at an agreed time.
So, here’s a guy who does the opposite of collecting business cards. His approach is quality not quantity.
While Tom Peters quote has a level of relevancy, it’s more indicative of the way business was done back in the heady world of the 1980’s.
Now as networking becomes an essential part of business growth strategies, there has been a shift towards quality and a level of considered thoughtfulness on ways to connect.
Here’s four ways you can maintain a high quality network of connections and opportunities:
1. Maintain your network
Touching base with your contacts regardless of whether you are currently doing business with them or not is the way to stay front of mind.
2. Finger on the pulse
Keep up to date with what your connections are doing using online platforms such as LinkedIn or apps such as Refresh.
3. Profile connections
Accumulating email addresses and sending them e-newsletters is not effective. Get your CSI on and profile your connections by job role, industry and even where they sit with you from a buying behaviour perspective. Are they still cold? Or a warm lead? Or have they bought from you multiple times? Profile connections to direct any communication touch-points (including networking) to the right people at the right time.
4. Spring Clean
It’s a fact of life that some connections just aren’t relevant anymore. Regularly check your contacts and databases to see who has moved on or out of job roles. Don’t forget about them altogether. Go to point 3 above and re-define their profile.
If you’d like to learn how to build your connections effectively, book in for our Create & Manage Networks course starting in September 2015. This course will help you develop the best strategy for you and how you can manage your network moving forwards. Find out more information here. Early bird pricing still available!