When it comes to building relationships, networking is absolutely essential; almost everything revolves around who you know. Being a force in any field will be determined not by what you know, but more so by how well you are connected to people who care about your particular area of focus. This world is filled with billions of people, so there’s no need to do everything on your own; instead build a network consisting of people who are ready, able, and willing to help you move your projects forward. A solid network takes time to build, and one of the best places to start is with people who already know and trust you (i.e. Your family members, friends, colleagues).
Before you get started reaching out to others for help, take some time to reflect on who your strengths, because your usefulness will be the glue that holds your network together. Never let your usefulness expire and people will always rely on you and the value that you bring. Do not confuse people’s need for your available resources with friendship; building a network is about “What can you do for me?” It’s important that you know the value you bring because this will be your negotiating power! Knowing your value will help establish you as a go-to source for your particular area of expertise, which will help funnel referrals passed through your network.
If you’re good at something, always do it for free, until enough people respect and acknowledge that you’re good at it. Servicing people for free will keep you humble, it will help you establish valuable relationships, it will allow you to test and try your abilities and make forgivable mistakes. After studying your craft and testing it out for free, you will begin to value your time/resources more, develop a passion for it, and you’ll become more knowledgeable and confident in your strengths and abilities. After investing the necessary time, energy, and effort, you will have the attitude, skills, resources, and references to place a title that describes the value you offer.
Whatever career path you choose, be the best at it! Establish yourself as an expert, be devoted to your craft, love it, respect it, and place high value on it. When you show others that you are serious about your craft, they will respect you more, and when they approach you, they will opt to commission you, or perhaps propose a barter arrangement, as opposed to asking you to service them for free. Your attitude, your skills, and your references are evidence that you are past the paying dues stage, so build these things up as early as possible. No matter how many skills or references you’ve managed to establish, always leave room for selective charity; this is also a great way to build new contacts and expand your network.
The sole purpose of building a network with others is so that you can have access to their available resources and vice versa. Some of the keys to building a powerful network are simply being honest, transparent, and most important of all, an available asset that others can take advantage of. The more you are able do for them, the more people will want to stay connected to you. The less you are able to do for them, the less people will want to stay connected to you. Do not take it personally if/when someone doesn’t see the value in networking with you; instead use this as motivation to do an honest self-evaluation, identify with the value you add to the lives of others (or the lack thereof), and work to perfect it.
Not everyone who’s around your circle needs to be in your circle! Surround yourself with people who are already successful, or are at least working towards being successful. Having a group of people around you who inspire you to be better is essential to your growth and prosperity. Always begin with the end in mind; set goals for your life and legacy, and this will help guide you to the right people and help you to avoid the wrong people. Life can either be a simple math equation, or it can be a complex labyrinth; if a person doesn’t add value to your life, they should be subtracted from your life.
Your network should be focused based on your strengths and your weaknesses. You want to network with people who will appreciate your strengths, and who can also help you with your weaknesses. Networking in areas that you are not valued and/or appreciated is counter-productive and will waste valuable time, energy, and money that could’ve otherwise been used in areas that will yield your desired results. Go where you’re celebrated, not tolerated!
The world won’t know what you’re capable of until you show them! When networking, it’s all about your performance; people want to be surrounding by people who bring love, joy, and resources. Attend social functions (i.e. Church, networking events, conferences) introduce yourself with a smile, and at the end of the conversation, exchange contact info. If you want to be remembered, give people a reason to remember you; stand out from the rest simply by being yourself!
You can further expand your network by creating an online presence on popular social networks (i.e. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter). We live in a digital age now, and just about everyone who has a business worth investing in has an online presence. Create a great bio that details who you are, where you’re located, how you can be reached and the value you add to the lives of others to represent you. This profile will help you make a great impression on people you invite to view your profile as well as those who stumble across it. With an online presence, referrals are only a simple click away, and if you don’t have the time to manage an online presence, you can hire an intern or assistant to help you manage it to keep your online presence relevant.
When building your network, you will come across many people who like the idea of being associated, but are not willing to help in any way. This is a part of the game, you have to be able to detect who these people are early on, so that you can measure how/where to place them. Perhaps you can inspire them to be more giving of their services by being the first to offer your services. Life is about building relationships and leaving behind legacies, so challenge yourself everyday on ways to build and even repair relationships when necessary.
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Life & Relationship Coach