The success of your business is directly proportional to the quality of your network.
Your clients, referrals, marketing opportunities, partners, and every other aspect of your business originates from, or is greatly influenced by your network.
In my years of coaching business owners I have yet to find one area of business that doesn’t benefit from a quality netowrk. Despite that truth, very few business owners are proactive in growing their network and therfore it often becomes a bottleneck for growth.
Let me show you how to grow your network, so you can grow your business.
What Is A Network?
Simply put, your network is your friends, colleagues, clients, prospects and anyone else that you have a relationship with.
When you’ve earned enough trust with your network, they will work with you, partner with you, or help you to grow your businesses in other ways. That’s why it is so important to Nurture Your Network.
However, if you simply rely on your existing network, over time you’ll extract all of the value possible from that group and your business will stall.
If you want your business to grow, you must grow your network first.
When most business owners want to grow their network they immediately think of attending networking events, meeting new people, and handing out business cards.
In person networking can work and is a great way to establish a relationship, however it also has a poor return on investment for your time.
Let’s review two other networking approaches that offer you a much better ROI.
Referrals And Introductions
Most people tend to hang around with others who are very much like them. So, it stands to reason that if you have people in your network that benefit your business, chances are they know similar people who could also benefit your business.
If you’ve nurtured your network and built trust with those network members, you can leverage that trust by asking them to make referrals and introductions to other people who you’d like to establish a relationship with.
Referrals aren’t simply to get clients. You can also ask for referrals to people who can help you to grow your business in other ways.
You can ask your network to introduce you to specific individuals you’ve already identified, or you can provide them with a description of the kind of person you want to connect with.
Whichever approach you take, be sure to use a Referral Strategy That Gets Results.
There will be times when you want to connect with someone who you have no connection to whatsoever. Perhaps they are a dream client, an industry influencer, or even a hero of yours. In those cases, you must employ a direct outreach strategy.
Direct outreach is simply you initiating direct contact with the intention of earning enough trust with the individual that they become a part of your network.
Use The Right Channels
Depending on the individual you want to connect with, there are many channels you can use to initiate contact.
You can certainly make a phone call or send an email, but you should also consider other creative ways to connect.
If they are a blogger, you can comment on their posts. If they like or are interested in what you have to say, they may interact with you in the comments.
If you know that an influencer in your industry will be at a live event, purchase a ticket and try to connect with them there.
Social media is probably one of the best ways to initiate direct contact with hard to reach individuals. Comment on their Facebook page, respond to their tweets, like their Instagram photos, and send them snaps on Snapchat.
Ask yourself which channels the individual uses in their life and business, then choose the one that is most relevant to the relationship you want to establish.
The Ladder Approach
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when trying to grow your network is to try and connect with individuals at the top of the ladder.
Think of the people in your industry as sitting on the rungs of a ladder. Some will be very high profile and sitting on the top rungs, while others will be sitting on the lower rungs. You’re also sitting on a rung somewhere along that ladder.
While we would all like to connect with people on the top rungs of the ladder, chances are slim that it will happen unless you’re also near those top rungs. And, rarely is connecting with people at the top of the ladder as beneficial for your business as you’d hope.
In most cases, we can easily connect with individuals that are one or two rungs up on the ladder within our industry, but the further up the ladder from you someone sits, the harder it will be to connect and create a relationship.
Focus on identifying the people you’d like to connect with who are one or two rungs ahead of you. Perhaps they’ll even refer you and help you to reach one or two rungs higher than that.
Over time, as your network grows and as you deliver tremendous value to your clients, you’ll move up the rungs of the ladder. And as you move up the ladder, you’ll have access to others who are also higher up the ladder.
Reach Down The Ladder
It can be tempting to only focus on climbing the ladder, but that would be a mistake.
One of the best ways to grow your network and your business is to help others climb the ladder. You can do that by reaching down one or two rungs and helping people our through referrals, recommendations, advice, or other means of delivering value.
As you help those individuals climb the ladder they’ll trust you and become loyal to you, and will look for ways to deliver value back to you.
Value, Value, Value
A sure way to damage your reputation is to try and grow your network with the sole purpose of benefiting you and your business.
It is absolutely essential that you always deliver as much value as possible to the individuals you want to develop a relationship with.
The further up the ladder someone is the more closely they’ll protect their time. If you’re going to have any chance of establishing a relationship with them you’ll first need to demonstrate that you can deliver value to them.
Delivering value is really quite simple, especially if you follow the 3 key approaches I outline in How To Nurture Your Network And Earn Trust.
How Often Should You Connect?
When trying to establish a relationship with someone the frequency of your connections will depend on the platform through which you’re trying to connect.
If you are connecting by email or phone, reaching out to them them once a month is proabably appropriate. Emailing or calling every day would definitely have a negative effect.
However, if you’re engaging with them on twitter, it may be appropriate to comment , share, and retweet their updates multiple times a day.
Always consider the platform on which you’re connecting and the perception of the individual you’re connecting with.
Patience And Perseverance
When trying to establish new relationships, you must be patient and persevere.
It takes time to earn trust to the extent that someone will want to become part of your network.
Relationships typically start off with small connections and grow over time.
If you remain patient and persevere, you’ll grow your network with quality connections and along with it your business will grow.
How have you established new relationships and grown your network? Please share your ideas in the comments below.