Steps to Networking – Step 20: You are your product

Written By Rick Frishman Published April 4th, 2010

STEP 20: You are your product

Regardless of what service you provide or product you produce, remember that you are your product. In networking, you are always on stage. People will watch you with a critical eye and take notice of how you act. If people like and believe in you, they will extend themselves on your behalf, they will speak highly of you to others. People who trust you will give preferences to you, your products or services; preferences that will make your life much easier and your profits much greater.

However, if people don’t like, believe in or trust you, they won’t help. They may not say “no” to your face, but when it comes time for them to deliver, something will always divert them and you won’t get what you want. And once doors close, they become much harder to reopen.

Name recognition can be important in building and maintaining a great network. Become a celebrity, an expert or a well recognized authority. People remember celebrities and expert authorities. Position yourself so that when your name is mentioned, others will instantly think he/she’s the best wills and estates lawyer, the top tennis coach or the finest jazz singer. Network contacts like to be associated with well-known people; it enhances their stature and gives them bragging rights.

Start locally. Move from your street, to the neighborhood, the town, county, state, national and the world. Build a solid support base and continue to branch out. When you venture into bigger and deeper waters, maintain and keep in contact with your base

Nearest and dearest

In building your network, it usually makes sense to work from inside out. When possible, build initially upon those who are nearest and dearest to you. Then inch your way toward others who aren’t as close. First lay a foundation of those who:

• Are closest to you and who know you best
• Have the best connections
• Can provide or bring you closer to your objective.

Those who are closest to you usually have the best knowledge of your talents and skills. They have witnessed and know first-hand about the level of your abilities and are generally happy to recommend you to their contacts. When they vouch for you, their opinions may hold great weight and be immediately accepted without further proof or documentation. And, their knowledge of your strengths and weaknesses gives them insights regarding whom they should match you with and who would make the best fit.

Close contacts, especially family and dear friends, often have a high stake in your success and will go to greater lengths to link you up with contacts who can help. Often, your near and dear ones will be more willing to go out on a limb for you, contact powerful people or call in chits that they’ve obtained in return for past favors. In addition, they might recommend other helpful contacts or strategies.

Be expansive; define your “nearest and dearest” liberally. Don’t look only to your parents, siblings and close friends. Contact your aunts, uncles, grandparents, distant relatives, in laws, godparents, business associates and members of their families. Explore all connections. Ignore the “removed” with relatives who are “once removed.” With friends, call upon their parents, siblings, relatives, friends and business associates. Leave no source unturned.

Remember that

• The easiest and most efficient way to expand your resources is to tap into your sources’ resources and
• The smartest place to start networking is with those who love or owe you.

So whenever possible, begin your networking close to home. Develop a plan, have patience, build a solid foundation and work from there.

(Excerpted from NETWORKING MAGIC: Making Connections That Will Change Your Life By Rick Frishman and Jill Lublin With Mark Steisel)

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