Networking is arguably one of the best things that you can do to help you reach your goals. Who you know will help you get your foot in the door, but what you know will keep you there. You can be an expert at something, but without a good network, your opportunities are limited.
Networking definitely doesn’t come naturally to everyone so I’m going to share with you my 5 rules for success.
- Always start with what’s in it for them
- Only receive something when you really need it
- Make sure you stay top of mind
- Position yourself as a trusted advisor
- Don’t take more than you need
When it comes to networking especially with people that are more successful than you are, it’s all about what’s in it for them. You need to be able to provide value for them otherwise they probably won’t stick around for very long. In the beginning, you should be trying to learn everything you can about them and their goals. While they talk, actively think of ways to help them reach their goals.
After you connect with an individual and provide value, they will most likely want to do something for you in return. This is normal human behavior. Knowing this and learning to accept nothing in return is very important. What you will find is that the more successful the individual is, the more they are asked by others for favors. The fact that you took nothing in return will set you apart and it will dramatically increase your value in their eyes. When the time comes and you need something, they will listen.
Now that you’ve provided value, it’s very important that you stay top of mind. You need to make sure that you stay connected, even if it’s not always possible to meet with them in person. You can stay connected through the phone, email, social media, or handwritten letters for example. Ideally, you want to position yourself as a trusted advisor so that they have more of a reason to want to stay connected with you which brings me to my next point.
You may be wondering how you can become a trusted advisor especially to someone who is more successful than you are. I promise you that it’s possible. Most people don’t excel in all aspects of life so start thinking about what you’re really good at. When you meet someone, you should think about what topic you could possibly advise them on in which they might not be as knowledgeable as you are. Finding these opportunities and providing this kind of value is key. Be creative, and don’t sell yourself short in the areas of life that you are more knowledgeable about. Some topics that I have used to position myself as a trusted advisor include millennials, public speaking, personal finance, and soccer. I may not be an expert in those fields, but I definitely know more about these topics than some people I meet. The key here is to have a good understanding of the other person. You will only get to this point by asking good questions and listening to them.
At the end of the day, we are generally selfish creatures. If someone comes along that does not act selfishly and instead is interested in providing more value than they receive, you will probably want to keep them around. This is why it’s crucial that you don’t take more than you really need. Instead, make sure you go out of your way to provide more value than you receive. Staying on the positive side of the value equation feels good and it gives you confidence that when you do need something, your network will be there to help you.
These five rules helped me to build a strong network, and I know that if you apply them you will get the same results. Make sure to listen to both of my podcasts this week to get more information on this topic!