Why you need a network and why you should care
First, understand: everyone needs “a network”. The type of network is as individual as the person who creates one, whether it is a personal network or a business network. On any level, however, it is your circle of influence, a group of advisors or mentors. We build networks to create connections and to build relationships.
“Success in any field, but especially in business is about working with people, not against them.”
? Keith Ferrazzi, Never Eat Alone
He believes that everything you achieve is WITH or THROUGH your relationships. And that our success is tied to those we know.
You should care whether or not you have a network because it can mean the difference between your success or failure.
Building a network
Start with your immediate need. Do you need a personal network or a business network? What kind of relationships do you need to build and what type of connections do you need to make?
Determine your need first, then define it.
Defining your network
Personal networks would be useful to build if:
- You moved to a new city and you need to establish your personal connections.
- Many of your friends have moved away.
- You wish to have personal connections in new circles of influence.
- You need a referral base of friends who can help with an apartment, a realtor, a doctor, a lawyer.
Most people already have a good established personal network—it’s your friends; the ones who “have your back”. You can call them for advice or referral to someone you need, like a realtor or doctor, and they are the ones you socialize with. Some contacts may be on the next outward level of connections—parents of your kids’ friends, kids’ coaches, your coach or personal development coach, etc. These are the broader personal contacts.
How big your personal network is and the levels of your network are very individual. You might expand your personal network by joining some groups where you share a similar interest, i.e. photography or running. Or start attending regular events of interest, i.e. opera, symphony, arts or cultural events, sports events. Try clubs with similar interests: wine clubs, book clubs or centres with other age or interest similarities, i.e. community centres, athletic gyms.
Business networks are useful to build if:
- You have established who your avatar is, your ideal client, and you need to put yourself and your business in front of that demographic.
- You are establishing a new business and seeking new clients, customers, suppliers or contacts.
- You are in an existing business and are seeking new clients, customers or contacts.
- You want to get out from behind your brand and start meeting people face to face.
- You are looking for a new job.
- You want to build an advisory team for your business.
- You recognize the need to get out and meet new people to expand your business.
Many people have a small or reasonably sized business network. If you are looking to expand your business connections, you’ve got to “get out there” and network to meet new people in new businesses and industries.
Networking groups are a great way to increase your connections. Many groups will have their niche, so look at your need first (personal or business). For many people, business networking feels the most daunting and cumbersome, but it doesn’t have to be with a few strategies under your belt.
First look at your ideal client, if you’re not clear on this, networking could prove more challenging. By knowing who you want to meet, you’ve already overcome a major hurdle.
So put yourself out there, get connecting with others to build your personal or business network. The key is consistency in your attendance. Expect to make the commitment to yourself and others to build strong relationships, strong connections, and networks that will serve your needs and the needs of others.
Networking is the Art of Creating Connections AND Building Relationships
Deb Alcadinho is the owner of Your Brand Power and Westshore Women’s Business Network (WWBN). She works with business and professional women to develop their personal brands to help them gain their competitive edge and stand out in a crowded marketplace, increasing revenues and their branding. WWBN provides a networking platform, training and business development for business women to connect, inspire, learn, grow and succeed.