Sales Skills

The 10 Secrets to Networking Success

The great myth of networking is that you reach out to others only at the time of need.  This is incorrect.  Successful individuals built their network long before they needed anything at all.  Creating a community is not a short-term solution or one-off activity only to be used when necessary.  Building a powerful network is a journey, not a destination.  It begins with a predetermined plan and a strategy to carry it out.  The strategy is built upon the constant process of connecting – of offering and asking for help.  When you put people in touch with one another and give your time, expertise, and share freely, the pie gets bigger for everyone. 

It is interesting to note that many peak performers’ lifestyles are designed around their network.  Intense involvement in the community is part of their program.  The more they give, the more they get. 

However, it is critical to invest time only in doing something in which you have a passion.  For example, if your passion is your family, your community involvement might be focused on their activities - coaching, school, church, Girl Scouts, to name a few. Common interests are essential building blocks of a relationship.  It is amazing how much you can learn about somebody else when you are both doing something you enjoy.

Let’s look at three important “don’t” strategies:

  • Don’t get involved in anything unless you have a sincere interest.  You must have a passion, otherwise, it becomes a chore. 
  • Don’t be a schmoozer.  Nobody likes a schmoozer. 
  • Don’t go to business card exchanges.  Networking events are to be reserved for the desperate and uninformed.

Instead, practice the following 10 secret recipes for networking success:

  1. Discover your unique abilities and value proposition in the marketplace.  Deliver a process to uncover issues to solve other people’s problems.
  2. Put together a personal board of advisers.  Consider experienced business leaders with wisdom and the ability to mentor.  Seek out role models with experience, wisdom, and a gift of sharing.
  3. Be patient.  Networks take time to develop.
  4. Think of networking as collecting friends who share your passion to serve others.
  5. Get involved in activities which interest you.  Assume leadership roles when the occasion arises.
  6. Figure out who are the super connectors in your community (i.e., CPAs, attorneys, head-hunters, etc.) 
  7. Establish a relationship management system to stay in contact with your network.
  8. Take risks.  You must be willing to take some risks in connecting.  The worst anyone can say is “No.”
  9. Networking is not a numbers game.  It is strategic, thoughtful, and deliberate. 
  10. Generosity is the key.  Remember to give before you receive. 

A powerful network is not exclusive to insurance agents and brokers.  Attorneys, accountants, bankers, investment advisers, and other professionals benefit from the process of connecting.  Your potential for connecting at this moment is bigger than you ever imagined.  All around you are golden opportunities to develop relationships with people you know who know people you don’t know.  The act of connecting with your circle of clients, family, and friends is powerful and exhilarating.  

Your quality of life reflects the power of a network.  It will be evidenced by an 80% or higher new business hit ratio, retention, and the number of qualified referrals.  Instead of cold calling, get an introduction from a member of your network. It will give you instant credibility and enhances your ability to establish a relationship.  Step back.  Look around you.  You have the potential for an amazing network sitting in front of you.  

Begin by helping others succeed.  Your generosity is the key.

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