Networking is a big discussion topic as well as becoming big business as more networking groups appear online and offline. Where I live it seems that at least each week a person is creating a new ‘meetup’ group for business networking (even if there are 10 already offered), or another breakfast, lunch or happy hour to meet and greet like-minded business people. Attending networking functions in itself can be a full-time job.
Networks are not only about numbers; more importantly it is about the relationships developed through the networks which then ‘deepens’ the network and increases the ‘net’s worth’. Relationship building has become easier thorough technology yet I find that the face-to-face or phone call is still one of the best ways in establishing the foundation, building that trust and then solidifying the connection. As we all know a lot can be sensed via verbal and non-verbal communication; so much can be misinterpreted through ‘text’ or email nowadays.
So the question arises and to reflect upon … Are my networks deep in numbers expanding the globe? Are my networks deep in substance where the majority of people on my list know how I ‘do business’ and maybe a bit about me personally and vice versa?
Networking is about ‘giving and take’ and ‘contributing and accepting’. When we find out a little more about the PERSON than just surface stuff – e.g., what she does, how long he has been in business, etc. – we are then starting to form roots that can grow the value of that person within your network. The ‘give and take’ is not just about sharing articles or referring people; it is also about giving a little bit of your ‘self’ to that person to become more connected with him or her. By doing that (and with discernment of course), it can then increase their level of trust by revealing something about them, for example, being a keen landscape photographer.
Never underestimate who is your biggest ‘fan’ in your network. This is where, I believe, by getting into a more heart-to-heart and possibly philosophical conversation with colleagues, you find out who your truest allies are within your network. Many times we don’t know who our biggest fans are especially in these days of social media with the many outlets we can use to make a difference in one’s life. Just because someone ‘likes’ your post may not reflect their level of admiration (although ‘likes’ are always welcome).
True networks are priceless; like precious gems they must be taken care of to maintain and also increase their value. By creating more ‘depth’ in substance, your ‘net’s worth’ will increase.