Remember this: quality trumps quantity every time.
So how did we get to the point where some CEOs and business leaders believe that networking is about having the most connections, the most views, the most likes, these days?
Only by focusing on quality connections, the ones that actually enhance our professional lives will we flourish as people in business. Here are a few tips to help anyone who feels they aren’t connected enough who wants to expand their network. But before we start, remember that quality connections are often harder to find and require some work to nurture; get it right and it means you won’t be wasting time chasing higher numbers, which means a better ROI for your efforts.
Give First. You will receive, later.
Give to get. It sounds a little crude but trust me, it works. Giving first, while making business connections can be hard to remember, especially when growing your business and you’re looking for connections and counsel to achieve your goals,
TIP: Before asking for a business favour, ask how you can help them. It sounds obvious but how often do we actually ask the question? No matter how successful or senior in business stature they are, you can always provide value to someone else’s life regardless of their success.
Give people a good enough reason to listen to you and pursue a networking relationship.
Being authentic, genuine and honest is the easiest way to build real, lasting business relationships. Many people aren’t, so you will stand out. And yes, I mean the people who are constantly singing about their (alleged) successes on LinkedIn and other platforms.
Sharing real life stories isn’t going to harm your brand or authenticity but sharing other people’s recycled stories which they dreamt up “for likes” will. You know the ones, the ill child with a fake “Can I get 1000 likes” poster. Urghh.
The right place at the right time.
Building business connections and relationships does not happen overnight and neither does it happen by locking yourself away in an office for 12 hours a day. Making business connections requires you being in the right place at the right time. If you aren’t where your desired connections hang out, you will miss valuable opportunities.
In the old days this used to mean being in the right pub at the right time (we all know the ones). Nowadays, whilst this is still true to some extent, it is more likely that we need to join some professional organizations that cater to people with your interests.
The sharing of personal interests can also fuel connections and this often leads to professional relationship building. Speak for free at local networking meetups and share your expertise. The more you put yourself out there, the quicker you will build a your connections.
It is vitally important to know what you want before you ask.
We covered the idea of being a giver first, instead of a taker. But when it’s time to receive, will you know what to ask for?
Who exactly do you want to connect with? What is your ultimate goal with those business connections? Do not be afraid to ask for what you want, especially if you have followed the steps above and invested in the relationship.
Disregard “small” connections at your peril.
Every connection can be valuable even if they aren’t the CEO of a FTSE 100 or Fortune 500 company!
The point is not to underestimate small beginnings. The theory of six degrees of separation tells us that only six or fewer connections separate all of us. Whether or not this is true, focus on shared interests in the beginning and connecting with people you can learn from and provide value.
Remember that the relationships you make today – however small – will shape where you will be in five years’ time.
Quality always trumps quantity!