Networking 2.0: Your Network Is Your Net Worth
If you’re like many, the topic of networking isn’t your favorite dinner party conversation. Many perceive networking as boring or they equate it with “schmoozing.” Even for me, the thought of walking into a room of strangers used to fill me with anxiety. However, a couple of years ago I woke up and realized how full my life had become. My career and social life were rich and my level of happiness was at an all time high. I sat in gratitude and realized my success wasn’t just because of hard work – much of it was directly correlated to the people in my life and in my network.
Either by fate or design, I met a literary agent that believed in my concepts and ultimately I wrote a book called Your Network Is Your Net Worth. If you are one of the millions who are aspiring to do better— in work or relationships— I’m thrilled to share some of my core ideas with you.
1. Approach Networking As Transformational Not Transactional
If you remember one concept, remember this: networking should NOT be viewed as a series of transactions.
Networking should NOT be viewed as a series of transactions
The old way to network involved climbing a ladder for individual benefit. The past was about competition, pursuit of materialism and “keeping up with the Joneses.” In today’s model, networking is transformational or an inside game first. As executives, we spend hours crafting strategies and defining messaging and sales plans but often fail to chart our own course by defining our own passions and purpose. Networking based on values and passions is not only more natural, I believe that seeking out and working in collaboration with others who share your interests can be the basis for building a strong network foundation, enabling you to reach a higher level of success than you would on your own.
2. Define Your Passions And Purpose With The Funnel Test
Based on 20 years of experience in marketing, I’ve created a simple test that I call “The Funnel Test” to help you clarify your personal passions and purpose. Over the years, I’ve worked with many companies and found the ones with lucid and succinctly described visions are more likely to succeed than those with unclear or highly complex visions. Some companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars defining their brand positioning, core values and vision. Yet as individuals, we often don’t take the time to clearly articulate our own passions or purpose. Imagine that you have five floors of elevator stops and you need to convince someone to be your business partner while you ride up together. Or you are given three minutes on a stage in front of your peers and you have to describe your personal mission. What would you say? How would you create a memorable connection?
3. Recognize How Technology Has Changed How We Connect
Technology has accelerated networking, reduced the degree of separation between contacts, amplified our global playing field and redefined the job prospecting process. Technology is speeding up everyone’s reaction time and changing how and when we connect. Because of technology, the degree of separation between our contacts has reduced. The team at PeopleBrowsr, a company that has analyzed Twitter data from 2007 to the present, has a hypothesis that on a global level, we’re four degrees apart; on a community level (i.e., fitness lovers), we’re three degrees apart; and on a niche level (i.e., those who love kite surfing), we’re two degrees apart.
The world has moved from the famous “six degrees of Kevin Bacon” to two, three or four degrees of separation from you. For the brand community, the impact of technology on connecting is significant. Most likely, every reader of this article is linked by fewer than three degrees of separation. With this in mind, consider the role of reputation, job performance and your personal brand as you navigate the business community and build your connections.
It is clear that technology has changed how we network and make connections. If you use technology wisely, you can use it to find new contacts and nurture global connections, and you can transform your deal making and job prospecting or recruiting. My advice is to embrace rather than shun the new online tools and social sites and to recognize how technology has changed how we network.
4. Focus On Giving More Than Getting
The last concept I’d like to share is about the power of helping others. The phrase I’ve coined to help you remember this idea is “Give Give Get”; that is, put greater energy into giving than receiving.
“Give Give Get”; that is, put greater energy into giving than receiving
Amy Rao, the CEO of Integrated Archive Systems said, “The more you give, the more you get. I feel incredibly privileged, beyond privileged. I never dreamed I would have the life I have. I grew up on the lower end of the middle class.” Ms. Rao feels that giving back and helping are keys to happiness. She also manages her sixty-plus-person team at the office based these concepts: “The greatest joy isn’t when they bring in the big elephant; what I love is seeing when one of them gives back. If they are giving a hundred dollars or a thousand dollars or a day of time, that is all I care about. What are you giving back? That’s what defines us.”
I believe the key to unlocking the power of connections is helping others when you don’t expect anything in return. If you put giving back and helping others at the center of your networking and relationship building, you are likely to have more impactful and stronger relationships, among other benefits. I encourage you to think about the value of your connections. Time and time again I’ve found that the people and relationships in my life have a direct impact on my feelings of happiness and the business opportunities that land in my path. Remember to look inside first, outside second. If you focus on your passions and reorganize your networking around your values and beliefs, you will discover the kind of lasting relationships, personal transformation, and, ultimately, tangible wealth that are the foundation for happiness and success. Read more here