The single most powerful strategy for building your business and getting customers has been under your nose the entire time. It’s your existing network.
The size and quality of your business is proportional to the size and quality of your network.
Why is your network such a powerful tool? Because it is made up of people who you have already earned trust with – your friends, colleagues, clients, prospects and others who you already have a relationship with.
One of the most important business principles I teach my clients in the Book Yourself Solid Masterclass is that people will only purchase your products and services in direct relation to the amount of trust you’ve earned with them. Businesses are built on relationships, and if these people in your network already trust you, they may be ideal prospects or supporters.
Granted, not everyone in your network is going to be a client prospect or a good fit to work with you. However, this same rule of trust also applies when making other requests of people, such as promoting your business, referring potential clients, or helping you to grow and support your business in other ways.
But, before you can leverage your network, you first need to earn trust with them. Let me show you how to earn trust with your network using three simple strategies.
3 Strategies For Earning Trust With Your Network
If done consistently, these 3 networking strategies will build trust, credibility, and your network.
- Share what you know.
- Share who you know.
- Share how you feel.
Using these three strategies above, you can deliver value to your network and let them know you’re thinking of them, which in return will develop trust.
Let’s break these 3 strategies down to explain what they are, how to implement them, and how they build trust.
#1 Share What You Know
Sharing what we know means sharing any kind of information that is going to be valuable to the recipient. This can include blog posts, articles, videos, or other forms of information.
Email is typically the easiest way to share what you know, but be sure to personalize each message you send. You want your recipient to feel special, not that they were part of a mass emailing.
And don’t simply send a link. Let them know that you were thinking about them and find ways to connect at a deeper level by asking questions or sharing your personal thoughts on the items you are sending them.
Make sure the information you share is relevant to the recipient. If you’ve discovered a great article about bungee jumping, an 80 year old grandmother probably won’t be interested, but a 25 year old adventure loving thrill seeker would probably be ‘psyched’.
When sharing what you know with someone in your network, ask what they would find most valuable. It can be something business related, or perhaps something more personal.
A great source for inspiration is to to read newsletters and magazines, browse websites, listen to podcasts, and subscribe to blogs. My blog is a great place to start.
When we share what we know it earns trust for two reasons:
- It let’s people know you’re thinking of them.
- They’ll appreciate the value you’re delivering to them by sharing this information.
#2 Share Who You Know
Sharing who you know is just a fancy way of saying you should make introductions.
By introducing two people in your network, you’ll let them know you were thinking of them, and you’ll deliver value to them by the thoughtful introduction. However, only introduce two people if it’s a mutually beneficial introduction for both of them.
How do you go about implementing this strategy? Simply take a look at your network and identify two people that you feel would get value from knowing each other, then make the introduction.
For example, you may introduce people because they’re in the same line of work and would benefit from talking. Or, you may introduce people who work in very different industries, but share a personal interest such as a love for kayaking.
Don’t overthink your introductions. A simple email like this one is usually sufficient:
Hi Mary. Hi John.
I’d like to introduce the two of you.
John is a massage therapist who specializes in treating athletes.
Mary is a nutritionist who helps health minded people stay healthy.
I think that there may be some synergies worth exploring between the two of you.
I’ll let you two take it from here, but let me know if there’s anything I can do for either of you.
Once the introduction is made, remember that It’s not your responsibility to follow up and become a match maker. Whether these two individuals decide to pursue the relationship is irrelevant, because you’ll still have built trust with them by showing them that you’re thinking of them and you want to be of value.
You may be worried that you don’t have enough people in your network to make relevant introductions, but I think you’ll be surprised. Read my post on How To Make Introductions and you’ll see how even a small network of only 10 people can easily result in 45 introductions.
Not only will sharing what you know deliver value and earn trust with your network, but as you make introductions your network will start doing the same for you.
#3 Share How You Feel
Huh? What do I mean by ‘share how you feel’?
Okay, don’t get freaked out by this ‘touchy feely’ suggestion. It’s probably the most powerful of these three strategies for building trust.
When we share how we feel we simply let someone in our network know that we’re thinking of them and appreciate them. It could be something as simple as wishing them a happy birthday, or as thoughtful as telling them you value and appreciate the work they do and the impact they’ve had on you.
Special occasions, both personal and professional, are often great opportunities to share how you feel. The key is to make it sincere.
Email can certainly work, but since this is a personal connection, a more personal way of connecting may be more appropriate. Consider a hand written note, a phone call, or even a personal video message.
Why do we share how we feel? I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but it’s because it let’s people know you’re thinking of them and they’ll appreciate it. That will in turn build trust, and the person will be more likely to either become a client, help you build your business in some way, or become a potential referrer.
Putting It All Together
These 3 strategies can be deceivingly simple, however, they do work if you work them. I’m proof, and countless numbers of my clients have benefited from these strategies for years. Remember, people will only purchase your products and services if they trust you, and because your network already trusts you to an extent, they’re the best place to start.
But how do we go about implementing these strategies?
At a minimum, you should connect with everyone in your network at least once a month. However, it’s important to note that it isn’t necessary to connect with everyone you know. I suggest you focus on those people who are potential clients, or who can help you to grow your business as a referral partner or in another way.
Michael Port, the creator of Book Yourself Solid, suggests that an ideal number of people to have in your network is 90, and so we call it your Network of 90. That is a significant enough number to help your business grow, but also a manageable number to connect with every month without becoming overwhelming. If you have more or fewer people on your list, don’t stress about it. Work with what you have. Consistently building trust with the people who are in your network is much more important than the actual number of people in it.
To connect with everyone in your Network of 90 I recommend you dedicate networking time in your calendar a minimum of two days a week, and possibly more. You’ll need to experiment and gage how much time it takes for you to share what you know, who you know, and how you feel.
Here’s a possible scenario of what your networking could look like over the course of a month.
If every week you:
- Share what you know with 10 people.
- Share who you know with 10 people. (that’s 5 introductions)
- And share how you feel with 5 people.
By the end of the month you’ll have delivered value to 100 people and built trust with them.
Turning Trust Into Clients
Now that you’ve built trust with your network, you can begin making requests of them. But keep in mind that not everyone develops trust at the same pace. One person may have a great deal of trust in you and will want to purchase one of your products after you’ve shared only one article with them, while someone else may require you to deliver value to them for months before they’d trust you enough to refer you.
If you’d like to learn more about how you can turn the trust you’ve earned with your network into clients, referral partners, and other supporters, read my post on How To Leverage Your Network.
Do you have any unique or interesting stories about how you’ve nurtured your network? Share them in the comments below.