By Damien Churton - Senior Business Strategist
Referral Month. Part 2.
Your Network Is Your Net Worth!
How to build your network...
Like sales, networking is a non-negotiable skill for business owners if they wish to be successful. Even if you don’t think you’re any good at networking, all you need to do is put in the time and effort and approach it in a logical way.
Today I want to share some of my own personal experiences with networking, and give you a simple activity to complete which will help you begin building your network today!
When I first arrived in Australia in 2012 at the ripe old age of 42, I had no network. The only people I knew were my parents-in-law and the rest of my wife’s family.
At the time I had no concept of how important and valuable networks were. It was a classic case of not appreciating something until you no longer have it. I now look back on the network that I have in Europe with a lot of envy and gratitude, because these days I appreciate how valuable the natural network that you develop over life actually is.
The good news for you is that you already have a network that is built (Unless, of course, you have recently done what I have and moved to the other side of the world and are inevitably starting all over again).
When I lived in Europe I underestimated what I had. I did not truly value or leverage what I had created. What do I mean?
As we go through life we are consciously and unconsciously building a network. We start at primary school and secondary school and meet friends and belong to a network at both schools. This provides our first networks.
Then we move on to university, trade school or out into the workforce and develop more networks.During these early formative years of our lives, we also build networks of friends that flow through our families and schooling. Our friends have parents who have networks, friends have friends who have networks.
By the age of 22, we will have all developed extensive networks, and will continue to build them through our pastimes, sporting clubs and hobbies. These provide endless connections for us to develop, to say nothing of the people that we might have met via Facebook, on holiday and any other means I haven’t mentioned here.
Then, of course, there is the whole avenue of our working lives and all the people we’ve worked with directly, or indirectly through our industry and suppliers.
I hope your mind is now beginning to swim with the possibility of all the people you already know who are sitting there waiting for you to offer them the chance of helping you, the chance to enjoy the magic of giving!
Now before we go to the next step and start mapping out your network, we probably need to deal with some of the head trash that can begin to develop at this point in the process.
Over the next few weeks of Referral Month, we will be exploring how to deal with your head trash in more detail. But for now, I want you to recognize that this is one of the biggest challenges you will face.
Headtrash is all the negative head chatter that you will have to overcome and push through for you in order to leverage your network and build an effective referral strategy in your business.
Your headtrash right now may be telling you “this doesn’t apply to me!” or “it’s ok for him to say this, but it’s different for me!”.
Let’s quickly explore some of those thoughts you might be thinking right now:
- “I’m not much of a people person and never really met many people along the way”
- I don’t want to be one of 'those' networkers, the inauthentic ones. (You know, the vile picture that you have in your head that you will never be!)
- This is overwhelming just even thinking about it!
- Even though networking events have not even been mentioned yet and you might not even have to go to one to execute the strategy, I’m getting put off anyway!
- I have got some other headtrash going that is not written down here, that is telling me that this is not for me, too hard, something else.
The reason why I mention the headtrash is because it will come. The only question is, what form will it come in?
The next question, when it comes, is will I be aware that it is occurring?
Because when you are aware that it is occurring, you can acknowledge it and keep going anyway.
Hopefully you are getting the idea here, in all cases you will get some headtrash and it is imperative that you acknowledge it and move forward anyway. I will be exploring more on this in a couple of week’s time, and giving you strategies to push through it. But for now, just recognise that it is occurring!
Network Mapping & Stock Taking.
What do you already have?
Now it’s time to begin mapping out your network and to take stock of what you already have to leverage.
We call this a circle of influence, and this is a very powerful asset that you have been building all your life from the day you were born.
Who would have thought that you were a business person at the age of 3 when you were playing with your friends at kindergarten?!
Who would have thought that you were building your most valuable business asset when you were out mucking about with your friends as a 15 year old?
So I’d like you to begin this activity right now! Begin by creating a list under the following headings:
Tertiary Education (University/Trade School/Other)
Family Friends (Parents/Kids)
Under each heading I want you to come up with a minimum of 5 names, but challenge yourself to come up with 10.
Rather than making this difficult for yourself, I would strongly advise that you just write down names of people that come to mind. Please don’t make it more difficult by working out in advance if they will help you or not or what you want them to do for you.
All I’m wanting you to do is come up with the list, If in doubt, write down the name!
Something to make this easier:
People are hardwired to help!
Before you potentially let your headtrash get in the way of writing down as many names as you possibly can, I just want to let you know about the most simple of human traits: we are all hard wired to help.
When was the last time that someone you knew got in touch with you and asked you for some help and you said no?
Clearly if it’s not done right then you might say no, or if the favour is too big an ask, you might say no. However, if someone you knew asked you politely, and it wasn’t too much of a burden, would you ever say no?
In fact, think about some of the times when you have recently been asked for some help. When it happened, did you not get a warm and fuzzy feeling? Did you feel a bit flattered that someone asked you for some help? Did the endorphins get going and made you feel really good about yourself as a result? I’d hedge a bet to say yes!
Now back to the task: Create your list, and make sure that you are creating a live document as your circle of influence is the gift that keeps on giving.
What I want you to do is allocate 30 minutes, create a document that has all the headings in it and start writing.
Have your address book nearby (online and offline), have LinkedIn and Facebook available. Search for old primary and secondary school groups. Do the research, do the work, do whatever it takes to make sure that you get to 100+ names on your list.
This may take more than 30 minutes, but all I want from you at this stage is to start and book in more time as necessary to continue growing your business.
Till next week!
Senior Strategist - Business Benchmark Group
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