The Best in Business Networking Training
Cure the Underdeveloped Network Syndrome
By Anne Baber & Lynne Waymon
Make Your Contacts Count:
Networking Know-How for Business and Career Success
What ails your network? Most people’s networks are under-developed. People join groups and then assume that they have networking relationships with the other members. Here’s a fresh look at the various kinds of relationships that are possible with contacts. Even more important, if you know what kind of relationship you have with someone, the next step you can take to develop the relationship becomes obvious.
Imagine your network as a bulls-eye.
Accidents float around outside the concentric circles. You’re in seat 14A. Next to you, in 14B, is an Accident. An Accident is a person you’ll never see again, unless you make it happen – exchange contact information and get back in touch. In one study, 27 percent of people developed a relationship with someone they met on an airplane. But it’s not smart to rely on meeting people by chance.
Inside the outermost circle, put the word Acquaintance. An Acquaintance is a person you could find again, if you had to because you know someone in common. Think of the architect you met at your cousin’s daughter’s wedding. But you’re not going to run into him in the normal course of your life. Remember your Acquaintances when you want more diversity in your network. Cultivating an Acquaintance will bring you in touch with people you don’t normally see.
Inside the next circle, put the word Associate. An Associate is a person who belongs to a group you belong to. That means, you’ll see him repeatedly.
We believe it takes six to eight meetings before two people know and trust each other enough to go to bat for each other. So Associates, whom you’ll see again and again, are your easiest contacts to develop. However (and this is one of the biggest mistakes networkers make), if you don’t develop these relationships, you will remain only co-members of a group. You won’t have begun to act as resources for each other.
Once you have acted – exchanged something of value – a tip, a resource, some information – you convert Associates into Actors. Actors are people you are actively trading with. When you give first, you plug into a quirk of human nature that’s the basis for strong networking relationships: The Reciprocity Principle. It goes like this. If you give somebody something, he will try to give you something back. Two-way swaps are the meat and potatoes of networking.
But there are ways to make relationships even more relevant. When that happens, you and your contact will be able to help each other even more. Advocates (inside the next circle) know you so well and trust you so completely that, when they see an opportunity with your name on it, they’ll grab it and give it to you. Because you’ve taught them so much about yourself, they’ll unhesitatingly pass your name along to others. Advocates can give vivid examples of you in action, serving a client, saving the day, solving a problem.
Finally (in the center circle), you’ll have a few Allies. Allies are on your personal board of directors. They know where you’re headed and will do all they can to help you reach your goals. They will actually seek out opportunities for you. (You’ll do the same for them.) They’ll celebrate with you when things go well, commiserate with you – and even tell you the truth – when things go wrong.
Take a minute to think about your networking contacts. Draw out the bulls-eye and decide, which A best describes each contact. Then you’ll be able to determine what your next step could be with each person.
If you want to move from Actor to Advocate with a contact, for example, tell stories so that your contact will be able to describe your capabilities to others. Ask for stories from your contact so you can reciprocate.
Using this As model will help you create a fully developed network and help you make networking an art, not an accident. ▪
Anne Baber and Lynne Waymon are principals of Contacts Count, a nationwide consulting and training firm that specializes in business and professional networking, and career development. They are co-authors of six books. The most recent is Make Your Contacts Count: Networking Know-How for Business and Career Success (AMACOM, 2nd Edition). Fortune 500 companies license their training programs. Put the tools of networking to work in the service of business goals. Visit www.ContactsCount.com and www.FireProofYourCareer.com 301-589-8633
Want to learn more about networking at its best?
Find these resources at www.ContactsCount.com
- Networking Know-How: The Contacts Count System for Savvy Professionals and Smart Companies An 80-minute “live” audio CD workshop that reveals the rules and tools of networking, featuring Lynne Waymon, nationally known expert.
- Make Your Contacts Count by Anne Baber & Lynne Waymon (AMACOM, 2nd edition, New York) The best step-by-step book on how to create, cultivate, and capitalize on networking relationships and opportunities.
- Activity Guides (one for corporations, one for associations, & one for alumni groups), 10 downloadable icebreakers to get people talking & connecting.
- Contacts Count e-mail newsletter Every 4 weeks, short, practical, innovative tips, examples, & stories highlight networking skills and strategies. The best way to stay in touch!
Want to know more about Contacts Count?
- The premier consulting and training firm specializing in business networking skills training for more than 20 years
- Developed “The 8 Networking Competencies©”
- Extensive client list: corporations, associations, government agencies, universities, professional service firms, and entrepreneurs
Want to know how to bring us to your organization?
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