Everyday, each of us meets new people and new opportunities appear for business. Building effective contacts - and turning these contacts into robust networks - is an essential business function.
It's 'Who you know, not what you know'
Building communities of individuals that share a common interest and provide real value will always be an essential platform for business success. It makes sense that individuals are more likely to do business with individuals that they know and that understand what it is they do, rather than others who are unknown.
When times are tough, stay close to who you know
When times are tough, individuals start to realise the importance of their own networks. Unfortunately, people often neglect their networks when times are good. It is very difficult to establish a high quality network when everyone is trying to do the same and often, for short-term gains. When times are difficult, people often guard their networks, and are unwilling to share potential opportunities because they feel that this may erode their own position or even damage their own network.
Build trust through quality and commitment
It is important to establish yourself as an individual who is worth including within a network. This requires investment through high-quality communications and valued knowledge exchange, and this may be through information or even potential business opportunities. By investing in your contacts first, you establish trust and commitment and this strengthens the bond and makes your networks more robust and effective.
Use you network to get recommendations and introductions
Once you have established a high quality and robust network, it is a good idea to ask for recommendations and introductions to new individuals via contacts within your own network. A personal recommendation or introduction will always have greater value than a direct approach.
Slowly, slowly catch a monkey
It is important to take your time building a networking. Spending time with individuals and groups is an essential part of retaining the trust and mutual value of your network. Remember networks can grow too big and can become unwieldy and difficult to sustain, and it is important to understand what a specific network is for and that you remained focused when investing in that network!