Networking Your Way Through Six Degrees of Separation the Power of Business Networking

Posted on December 3, 2019 in Uncategorized

In the early 90s, a film called Six Degrees of Separation built its story around the idea that we are all separated by six degrees from everybody else on the whole planet. Everybody is an open door into another world and knows the people you are looking to meet or companies you want to work with. Everybody is connected on this planet by a trail of only six people, whether you are famous or not. If you find the right people to make the connection with, distance vanishes and the right opportunities will come your way.

In thinking about this I decided to look on YouTube to remind myself of the key ideas in this film and whether it really does have any relevance to our business life today. To my surprise and delight, I found a documentary on scientists who have studied and written an algorithm to prove this “network theory, which they worked on for years. It shows that nature has this hidden blue print and structure that connects us all. The scientists mapped it out and tested it on people by taking parcels across the world and asking 27 people to only use their social networks to get the package to a person on the other side of the world. It was amazing how quickly the parcels moved closer to the addressee, who was a scientist working at Harvard University in Boston.

This is an idea worth experimenting with in our daily business lives. I apply it in my own business strategy by making my business networks help with word-of-mouth marketing and create the connections and opportunities I seek with particular companies. There is no better example of the power of networks than the latest Web 2.0 social media networks. If you test the theory within your own social circle, you will find very quickly that people have connections that can open doors for you. Many of your connections within your business circle either know each other or have a contact into a client or employer that you may be looking to meet.

Looking at our own economy and applying this to our client-building strategy or job search, makes me think that the traditional ways of building businesses and finding jobs is far too slow. In this day and age, you need to be tapping into your personal, social and professional networks, if you want to get faster results. Systematically searching for the right people through your networks, using a plan, will yield faster results every time than a traditional approach of throwing out a blanket of hopeful letters and calls. In human nature, people will always respond faster to people they know than to strangers.

You may be asking yourself, “How is that in any way relevant to me?” If you are looking grow your practice or find new opportunities, it is very relevant. My suggestion to you is to take it out and test the theory yourself.

Here are six steps to help you in your own Six Degrees experiment:

Step 1: Connect into the network hub

The scientists tell us that in every network there is a traceable hub, where the core activity takes place. It is the place where people gather and take information about you back into their world. Even more interesting is that within each hub, you will find the “human hub”, the person with the highest degree of influence and connectivity. They are important people to know and start building relationships with. What they do for a living is irrelevant, their social currency is what you really want to tap into! Identify this person within your networks. This includes your family and friend networks, professional networks, membership organisations, and most importantly your on-line networks. Ask yourself, “Who are the people gathering around me with the most influential links?” Make sure you set up your social media accounts (LinkedIn, Facebook , Inquisix and Twitter) to build your on-line treasure chest.

Step 2: Have a networking plan

Key to getting the results you want is deciding or naming the companies and roles of people you wish to meet through your network, whether at networking events or through your on-line contacts. Then identify a very good reason why they would want to meet you. Human nature is designed to act principally from self-interest, which is driven by the reptilian part of our brains. So people will always unconsciously ask “What’s in this for me?” Give your network and potential contacts a worthwhile reason to want to meet you. Perhaps it’s to share some information, opportunities, save them money or help them use your networks.

Following on from that, it is important to have something to share about you that’s of value to them, and sets you apart. Direct them to your website, literature, testimonials or information that you think they would benefit from. Ask them to do you a favour. Most people like doing favours for others and help their own business contacts. It helps cement relationships.

Step 3: Authenticity at networking events

There is no end of opportunities to attend networking events as we go into the autumn. Networking is not just about getting into a room to break the world record for the largest business card collection. Nor is it a popularity contest on social media. The most valuable asset you can bring to a networking event is your authentic self. Be real, be present, engage and listen to people as you would if you were at a social gathering. And avoid talking about yourself all the time. Ask great questions. They don’t have to be about business. Get to know people, because relationships are built on this. Even if you only meet 3-4 quality contacts and have agreement to follow up and meet, you will have done a great job. Set a goal of having at least 2 meetings come out of a networking event.

Step 4: The Follow-Up

The downfall of people’s networking strategy is either poor follow-up, no follow-up or the full-blown sales pitch in an email. Think of your follow-up as a “getting-to-know-you” phase of your relationship. It must happen within 24 hours to reinforce the connection you made. Acknowledge the meeting, the event and create the invitation to connect on LinkedIn, Inquisix or Twitter. You will need to explore which of these ones suits your business needs. And ignoring emails is a poor reflection on your business, so avoid it at all costs. Arrange a follow-up meeting, even if it’s for a coffee to learn more about each other’s business, in anticipation of opportunities down the line. This is always a great starting point.

Step 5: The Power of Reciprocity

Give without expecting something back demonstrate how powerful reciprocity can be. If you see an opportunity to share some information or introduce a contact to your contacts, “Just Do It.” This is building some credit for reciprocal behaviour from others in the future. I saw this recently when I did a favour for a business contact. In return, an out of the blue opportunity came my way through the person I did the favour for. I was the first person that came to mind. This is the power of reciprocity.

Step 6: Build it and they will come

People often give up before they reach the momentum that makes them a network hub in their own right. They are inconsistent or dismiss people as not being of value. I suggest a rule of thumb is to treat everybody you meet for like your clients, even your “so-called” competition, as they may be a vital link for a joint venture in the future.

It’s far too easy to assume people in your network as not worth knowing, because they wouldn’t understand your business of have the right kind of contacts. The business people I have met are very intelligent so give them your time! And don’t be a dabbler by attending networking events, gathering cards, connecting on social media sites and then abandon ship. Use your 20:20 vision. See the value in everybody you meet as a chain in your network and a part of your most valuable asset: your contact database.

To truly understand the power of networking, read The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, who writes brilliantly about Connectors, Mavens and Salespeople. These are the people turning their businesses around, making money and finding great jobs, when the masses are doing things the old way. Be a pioneer in your business or profession and tap in that that rich reservoir. Your best client or the perfect job is only six handshakes away.

Why Christian Business Networking Could Be For You

Posted on December 2, 2019 in Uncategorized

Business networking is increasingly recognised as an effective and efficient way of developing your business. By meeting up with other business people and developing relationships with them you can start to tap into their networks, expand your contacts and increase the amount of business you gain from personal recommendation.

The last few years have seen the growth of Christian business networking organisations but why would you want to restrict your networking to business people of a single faith when this could potentially restrict your network of contacts? Here are some of the reasons why.

Whether you are a Christian or not, choosing a networking organisation or group to join or event to attend should require some careful thought if you are actually going to benefit from your activities. If you are going to make the most of your precious time and money you should ask yourself what you are aiming to achieve and how will each of the networking opportunities out there help you.

But you might want to consider more than your business objectives – what personal and spiritual factors are important to you and do you really want to do business at any cost?

Some questions you might want to consider are:

· What is your mission in life – is it enough for you to earn an income or are you seeking to fulfil a higher purpose? You may have entered business only to find you are not finding the fulfilment you originally expected and seek something ‘more’ in life.

· Does your business allow you to operate to your core values, in other words are you doing business with the people you want to do business with and are you operating in a way that is in line with who you are as a person?

· Do you know, like and trust those people around you and would you feel comfortable recommending their products or services to others?

To answer yes to these questions it is important to network and forge relationships with like-minded individuals and, if you are a Christian, Christian business networking forums can provide an ideal way of making these connections.

Part and parcel of networking is ‘connecting’ with others. If there is a natural connection from the outset through sharing a set of common Christian values then relationships can be built up more rapidly.

Most business people will agree that if they are to recommend other’s services they have to know, like and trust them. If you already have some common understanding of someone else’s beliefs and values then already you have a platform on which trust can be built.

In today’s world many people see conflicts between commercialization and their own personal beliefs and for many joining a Christian Business networking organization provides a framework and ideas for integration both business and spiritual objectives.

Many Christian business networking organisations have a mission to achieve more than just bringing together fellow Christians – they have a higher Christian purpose and are involved in charitable projects and other relevant activities worldwide. For many business people belonging to such an organization can serve as a great source of inspiration which in turn helps many fulfil more than just financial objectives.

One question you might have is how can you be sure that you are sharing a network with other genuine Christians. Of course there are no guarantees and there may always be people who are scrupulous enough to exploit such a network however some organizations market themselves through Christian media and some require members to sign up to statement of faith.

And if you do only network with fellow Christians are you seriously limiting your own market? Well if course it depends on your product or service but for many businesses their potential total market is huge. Many businesses suffer from trying to target too broad a market so by focusing on a more tightly defined market such as the Christian Community can actually make great business sense.

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Business Networking – The ABC’s

Posted on December 1, 2019 in Uncategorized

People have often asked me what I consider the ABC of networking are.

Interestingly, the ABCs I tend to pick have little to do with the process of networking, but more to do with the WHY, WHO, WHERE and WHEN.

To that end, I’m going to give you my ABCs with a brief explanation of some of the words and why I choose these above all others.

A – Aptitude, Attitude, Attention, Action and Ask. These are all powerful, ‘A’ words which are important in business networking. You need to have a strong attitude to take action and and create an aptitude for asking the right questions.

B – Business, Branding and Brevity. These ‘B’ words are all about being focused on the Brand you’re trying to put forward, keeping it brief and ensuring that you’re always about business.

C – Commitment, Communication, Connection, and Clarity. Commitment is a very strong part of good business networking. It allows you to create powerful connections, while communicating with absolute clarity… this shows you the power of the ‘C’s’.

D – Dedication, Determination and Diplomacy. In business networking, you have to have a very determined mindset. Always be diplomatic, but always be determined in achieving your target or goal.

E – Enthusiastic, Empathic, Emotive and Engaging. When networking, you need to be focused on creating a strong connection. You need to show your enthusiasm by being engaging and empathic while using emotive language to get your point across.

F – Friendly, Focused and Fun. Even though you are focused on achieving connections. The more fun, you create in the process, the more friendly you will appear to the people you’re meeting.

G – Goals, Gratitude and Give. One of the key elements of business networking is giving, but in giving you need to make sure you do so with gratitude. And that you are focused on achieving your specific goals in helping others.

H – Happy, Host and Helpful. The ‘H’s’ in networking, a very important. When you are a networking function always act like a host be as helpful as you can be to assist others to feel more comfortable. In doing so, you’ll feel a lot happier, and they will also be happy to meet you and be happy to be at the function.

I – Interested, Ideas and Innovative. One of the keys to business networking is showing people that you have innovative ideas and are interested in them and their business. You might just be the key to their future success

J – Jovial, Just and joyful. These seem to be rather interesting words to use in a business networking context. However, if you don’t have an attitude of joy and a sense of joviality and is very difficult to accept the judgement of others. Despite what other people think we must always have a just attitude to people and their ideas.

K – Knowledgeable, Kudos and Keen. These tend to speak for themselves. When talking to another person it is always appropriate to give them kudos for any achievements that they will tell you about. It is important that we show that we have a knowledgeable understanding of their business, and if we don’t, that we have a keenness in learning more from them.

L – Likeable, Listen, Learning and Laughter. The ‘L’ words cover some important aspects. We must always listen, if we are going to learn about our contact. Being able to laugh with them and show that we are likeable, is an important step in creating this relationship.

M – Motivation, Mentoring and Managing. When going to a networking function. It is important that we take a role of motivator and mentor, particularly to those who are new to business networking. But we must always be mindful to manage our connections, and our goals when we are at an event.

N – Noticeable, New and Nuances. It is key at all networking functions to make sure that we are noticed, one of the best ways to do that is to always offer something new and listen and look to the nuances in the reactions of the people we are talking to. These are the clues to building a strong connection.

O – Openness, Open-Minded and Opportunities. These words are very obvious. We must always show that we are open to other people, and that we’re open minded to their ideas and also to their opportunities.

P – Positive, Present, Passionate and Profitability. One of the true keys in networking is to be always be present, in the moment, with the person you’re talking to. Your passion and your positive attitude will lead you closer to creating a profitable relationship once you take your connection to the next step.

Q – Question, Quirky and Questing. Whenever you’re with any group of people, it is important to ask appropriate questions. Often these questions can be quirky and fun, because this gives the recipient an idea that you are questing for more than just the standard answers.

R – Reciprocity, Real and Rapport. Business networking is about developing a reciprocal arrangement with someone else. If you’re honest and real, you will find it very easy to build rapport with that person. Once this is done, you will find that developing a reciprocal arrangement becomes easier.

S – Sincere, Succinct and Silent. People often say, silence is golden. it is important that when you ask a question, keep it succinct, and then let the person answer the question. By allowing others to complete what they have to say reflects on your sincerity.

T – Tenacious, Thorough and Transparent. At a networking function, you need to be tenacious to your goal. Be thorough in the methods that you use, but always be transparent in your dealings with people.

U – Uniqueness, Useful and Understanding. One of the real opportunities when networking is to be able to show how useful and unique your business can be and how you can help others achieve success. By making an attempt to understand their business, you can show them how useful, you can be to them.

V – Visibility, Versatility and Value. Stepping out at a networking function is all about visibility. In the process, you need to show people that you have value and versatility to be able to assist them in their business.

W – Welcoming, Warm and Worthy. When meeting anyone, it is important to be welcoming and warm in your approach. You need to prove that you are worthy of their time and their interest.

X – Xanadu and Xenophile. I bet you didn’t think there were any x-words. Treat every networking event, like your personal Xanadu. All networking events are special places. Also it is important to be a Xenophile. This means that you are prepared to embrace everything that’s new and look at differences in people and businesses to be able to help them.

Y – You and Yes. You are the most important person at a networking function. It is important that you embraced the concept of saying yes to as many things as you can and be able to move any and every relationship forward for your and their success.

Z – Zeal and Zest. Zest is like passion and energy. It is important to show both at a networking function. You’re zeal on the other hand, is your attitude and your focus.

There you have it! My ABCs.

I hope to expand on these in future articles and be able to share with you some of the very real benefits of embracing these ABCs so that you can use these tools to help you create profitability and success in your business.

Happy and profitable networking!

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