Steps to Networking – Step 96: SUMMING UP

Written By Rick Frishman Published April 19th, 2010

STEP 96: SUMMING UP

“Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.”
ALEXANDER GRAHAM BELL

Now that you’ve completed this book, we want to thank you for reading it and for thinking about the information that we’ve provided. We know that we have covered a lot ground, so before we sign off, we would like to summarize and briefly reiterate some of the major points that go to the heart of networking. So pardon the repetition, but we are convinced these points are so essential that they can’t be stressed too often.

Reading a book is one thing, but putting it’s content in practice is completely different. Frequently, readers run into trouble because they don’t know where to start or they try to implement all the information they’ve learned at once. When they try to take on too much, they usually get overwhelmed, become discouraged and don’t continue further.

Give yourself a break. Take two or three days to let the information in this book to settle and percolate in your mind. Let your brain digest and clarify it. After a couple of days, concentrate on the book and see which of the areas we covered pop into your mind. Write down which topics come to mind, pick no more than three or four, review our discussions of them and start to master them.

Follow the suggestions we made in this book and add ideas and approaches of your own. First, think all approaches through carefully and then practice implementing them with your family and close friends. For example, start by trying to identify the members of your existing network and how they can help. Train yourself to look everyone you know or meet in terms of how they could fit into your network. When that become routine, move on and try to implement other suggestions we offered.

Develop you own style. Try different approaches until you discover what feels comfortable. Move at your own pace and pay careful attention to how others respond. Monitor whether you’re having fun and being successful. When you find approaches that that seem to work, practice them until they become natural and you no longer have to think about them. Move slowly, step by step and before you know it, you will be a master networker.

While you’re practicing, remember:

1. Networking is the process of building and maintaining relationships, supportive alliances that help you and your network partners reach your goals. Good will and a good reputation create the foundation for a solid network. To successfully network you must constantly create good will and then build upon that good will to forge bonds that develop into close, meaningful relationships. In networking, building relationships should always be the networker’s primary objective, building solid relationships is more important than short-term goals. Every networking effort you make should be directed a building close and enduring relationships.

2. To create a diverse network. Construct a multi-faceted network filled with contacts who possess a wide variety of differing supportive skills, interests and backgrounds. Enlist partners who are expert in areas that differ from and compliment your expertise. The object of networking is to cover all of the bases and challenges you might face. Concentrate on recruiting network partners who fill in your gaps and shortcomings. Think of them as experts who are fluent in languages that you don’t speak. Encourage them to teach you and expose you to areas that will broaden your knowledge and interests. If you’re weak at marketing, turn to marketing experts. Don’t enlist only people who duplicate your strengths because it will redundant and limit your growth and development.

3. Networking is based on giving generously and graciously. Although reciprocity is important, learn to give without expectation of return. Don’t be deterred by the fact that people may not be as giving or as generous as you, just keep on giving. Always be willing to give and consciously look for opportunities to give. Initially, giving selflessly may difficult because of impatience or because you have immediate needs to fill, but keep giving. Unfortunately, the fruits of networking don’t come overnight, in fact, they make take time, but if you stick with it, the magic will occur. The ideal time to build your network is when you are in a position to help others and you don’t need their help in return. Help others whenever you can because it could motivate them to assist you when you need help.

4. To listen and observe. Let others carry the conversation and while they do, pay careful attention to what they say. If you let them speak, most people will disclose who they are, what they do and what they need. And, if after listening, you’re still not sure, ask them directly. Show your interest by being attentive and ask probing questions. When you’re attentive, others will be flattered. Never interrupt or break into a conversation. Wait, be patient and listen, your turn will come. Others will notice and appreciate your forbearance. When the conversation turns to you, speak briefly and then move the conversation back to others and continue to listen. Listening and observing are the best ways to learn about others and develop strong connections.

5. That trust is an absolute prerequisite for building successful networks. Integrity counts; it provides a level of consistency that people can rely upon. The network partners you want to be affiliated with will not recommend or extend themselves for those who do not consistently deliver the best. Anything less will tarnish their reputations and limit their potential returns. Each and every member of your network must be completely confident that they can always rely upon you to provide expertise, excellent service, honesty, high standards, knowledge of their needs and the ability to make great matches. Don’t promise if you can’t deliver, don’t exaggerate or misrepresent.

6. To spot lead for your partners. Establish your value to your network by developing the ability to spot viable leads and opportunities for your network members and recommend good matches. To recognize opportunities, requires you to know about and understand the needs of both your contacts and your network partners. When you demonstrate that you consistently look for and identify opportunities for your network partners, you will become a valuable resource upon which they will increasingly rely. If you can also match your network partners with others who can provide them with what they need, your value will soar.

7. That networks are built around the exchange of information and nourished by a constant stream of information. To efficiently utilize this information requires expert knowledge (1) to recognize the full implications of the data received and what it means and (2) about the members of your network, their capabilities, capacities and needs. To build and maintain a successful network requires expertise. Your expertise is the exchange that you give to your network partners in return for their help The more knowledgeable you become, the more valuable you will be to potential network partners. By becoming an expert, you will make yourself more attractive to those who can give you the greatest help. People with influence want to associate with the best and surest route to top is by becoming an expert.

8. To know your purpose. Before selecting networking targets, clarify in your mind exactly what you want. If you fail to precisely request what you seek you risk getting less than you desire and can create misunderstandings. Develop a compelling vision that you can see and feel. Actually picture yourself at the point when you have achieved your objective. Before you begin to network identify realistic targets and research them thoroughly. In forming alliances, ask if your targets are individuals who you want to do business with, hang out with and/or be associated with? Select your targets precisely and limit the number you pursue. Often, when you try to corral too many, you end up landing few, if any. Don’t shoot for the biggest stars unless you are convinced that you have a realistic chance and solid plan for reaching them. Identify all possible roadblocks that could block or delay your success.

9. To build a terrific networking toolkit. Develop a compelling sound bite that you can reel off in 10 to 15 seconds to explain who you are, what you do and how you can help. Make it a grabber that immediately captures your audience’s attention. Before writing your sound bite, be sure that you clearly know what it is that you do. Ask your customers or clients, even if you think you know. Practice delivering your sound bite until you can clearly and confidently deliver it. If, after delivering your sound bite, listeners want additional information, give them your brochure, other print materials or a verbal description. Always carry a stack of your business cards and never leave home without your address list, calendar and writing materials, which are now easy to have on hand in PDAs and similar devices.

10. To follow up. Create a contact organization system that will keep your records current. Maintain a detailed database on your Rolodex, PalmPilot® or address book, investigate the numerous computer programs that provide contact-organizing services or start a card file. Record as much information on your contacts as you can uncover including their business and personal backgrounds and interests. Enter new contact information promptly and update your entire database at least every three months. When your network partners give you a lead or referral, keep them posted on your progress as it develops and always express your thanks in handwritten notes, email or telephone calls or by giving gifts.

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


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