A crucial component of sales is building and leveraging a personal network; however, not everyone is comfortable dealing with aggressive sales types. So, I came up with a different way of networking— a system based on referrals and patience. Earlier in my career, I was more focused on learning than networking. The bonus to focusing on educational events is that networking is usually a part of the mix.
When I attended an event, I would make a point of meeting at least one person I felt I could hang out with during the event. The goal was to have someone to talk to and with whom to share ideas and thoughts about the content, attendees, speakers, etc.
The second reason for concentrating on developing just a few, deeper connections was that it allowed me to build the trust necessary to request introductions to people in their network, as well as build the confidence to meet other strangers at that and future events.
The best part of my networking philosophy is that I rarely ask for favors, so my connections continue to send referrals and offer support out of good will. The more you put into networking, the more you get out of it. At the same time, keep your expectations conservative to ensure you’re not disappointed with the time commitment. If I were to boil my career networking philosophy down to essential elements, they would include the following:
- Your time is money; use it sparingly.
- Develop relationships with “Connectors” that serve as the foundation of your network.
- Provide value early on in every relationship.
- Consider volunteering for charities and industry organizations.
- Ask for favors from your network judiciously.
- Let your connections build your network for you via referrals.
- Connect your network— create value by introducing key contacts to each other.
- Be patient; a valuable network takes a lifetime to build.
By following the above recommendations, you should be the most networked person in any location around the world.
Kent Lewis is the President of Anvil Media, Inc.