Obviously I’m a huge proponent of social networking and on a daily basis, I communicate with hundreds of people via various social outposts (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc.) but lately I’ve been thinking about the tangible business benefits of networking. In other words, not just meeting people and sharing information, but having actual jobs or other opportunities result. When a recent conversation with a friend turned to his increase in workload, he told me that several of the opportunities that he has been afforded have been due to recommendations. Typically when you think of recommendations, you think of positive feedback from people with/for whom you’ve worked; however, he was referring to others in his network who had given him the heads-up about or recommended him for job and other opportunities. That’s what I call a tangible benefit!
Just last night I read a post on Single Black Male that pretty much wraps up my point and ties it all together with a pretty little bow. Basically, the author of the post wrote a post committed to helping someone in his network achieve a goal. Now, in addition to the people to whom she had already reached out, there is another network of readers of that site that have been made aware. That’s what I call a tangible benefit!
Now we all know, or should know, that successful networking isn’t just about adding contacts to your iPhone or what the next person can do for you. It’s about building mutually beneficial relationships. It’s about being willing to share information and opportunities. It’s also about having a personal marketing team, or as we call them nowadays, brand ambassadors. These are people who will help promote your brand (be it you or your business) because they believe in it and want to help you grow. If you’re reading this, I’m sure you have some people or businesses for which you have done this because I know my readers are great people. My question to you is, have they done it for you? When was the last time someone in your network reached out to you with a recommendation or an opportunity? When was the last time they retweeted your blog post or told someone about your business? Have they liked your Facebook fan page? You get my drift. For small business owners, or solopreneurs, active – and effective – networks are especially critical because you don’t have employees to act as your brand ambassadors. When you’re pretty much doing everything yourself, it’s important to have a strong network of people who support you in deed.
I’m not in any way, shape or form implying that you should put requirements or deadlines on your network, just that you think about how/if they are supporting you in the same manner in which you are supporting them or in a way that is truly beneficial to you/your business. Obviously you can’t expect all of the hundreds or thousands of people in your various networks to always have your interests front of mind, but when it comes to your core network, they should be doing something for you. And you for them. The actions won’t be the same for everyone and they won’t be on the same timetable for everyone, but action is key.
What has your network done for you lately?
I know this is a business blog, but I had to add this. Inspiration.
YOU are your brand! Represent.