You are doing everything right. You are carving out time and hitting your black book, you are targeting the right prospects with a well-researched hook and you make sure you add value at every interaction. You know that your network is like muscle – you either use it or lose it. But you are just not getting the results you feel your efforts deserve. Why? Considering these additional strategies might unleash your network’s full potential:
Point to point: Where most networking takes place - you are investing in the individuals in your immediate network. You look for triggers (personal and business), you follow up and you keep the relationship current in the hope that someday (hopefully not too far away) they might buy from you. It’s foundational, it’s important but its table stakes.
Portfolio networker: Sure, you have got 5000+ connections on LinkedIn but honestly how good are they? Are they mostly friends and talkers or are they influencers and decision makers? Better results from your network requires stepping back and managing its composition and quality as a whole – and taking action to improve it.
Enlightened self-interest: You find opportunities to orchestrate your network for their benefit not yours: joining the dots and helping your relationships connect with like-minded (non-competing!) peers, source quality talent and find new opportunities. This builds trust, deepens relationships and underpins credibility. You are becoming ‘top of mind’ to reach out to, with credit and goodwill in the bank.
Making the chain: You know the prospect you really want to get in front of but you have no direct relationship. Like chess players thinking five moves ahead, great networkers plot a path through the chain of their connections, and then their connections, to understand how to get the referrals, and the introductions, they need. It’s seven degrees of separation with a commercial goal.
SaaP (Seller as a Platform): Here your network (existing and new) gravitates towards you and the constellation of prospects has a reason to stay fixed in your orbit. Facilitating engagement and interaction around blogs you publish as well as hosting regular events (on-line and in real life) drives interest and stickiness in you personally. It’s how you build reputation and personal brand, and it’s very powerful.
Mass – confidant: The golden land and the tipping point where you have reached critical mass. People want to connect with you because of who you know and what you know about them. You are famous for the breadth and power of your personal network. Your network defines your reputation and has effectively become a club people will fight to get in to.
It is likely that many of the most valuable contacts in your network are also in one of your competitors. Great networkers take active steps to ensure the attraction towards them is greater. Thinking more strategically about your networking, and moving towards that happy point where your network has become your brand is likely to deliver disproportionate bang for your differentiated buck.