Are you networking properly

stand out because you add valueIt’s who knows you and knows what you know!!

I speak at colleges and to many professional and business groups. If you’ve read my book (free chapters here), you know the importance I place on professional networking. I steer clear of the phrase:

It’s not what you know, it’s who you know…

I don’t subscribe to that thinking because it implies that your knowledge or the value you provide is unimportant. Instead I use the phrase:

It’s who knows you and knows what you know..

The distinction is important. Your best networking is not necessarily due to business you get through friends, peers, and acquaintances. It is valuable because of their top-of-mind awareness of you and what you do. It is valuable when you come to mind and come up in conversations when you ARE NOT PRESENT.

When you are viewed as someone who adds value to the conversation (by conversation, that could be discussions online or in person) or as someone who shares opportunities and information in your network, you are much more likely to be the person who comes up in conversation when you are NOT around.

Here is a scenario

A peer/acquaintance in your network is at lunch with a couple of her business associates. You are not there. They’ve brought someone along that neither she nor you have met before. The conversation turns to business and this person expresses the need for a particular type of expert. Immediately, your peer/acquaintance thinks of you.

“I think I know someone who can help you,” she says. And an opportunity is born.

Adding Value Is Key

So how do you add value to your network and become a “top-of-mind” resource?

Know your network: Pay attention to what others do. It is the only way you can add value to them and the only way you can refer opportunities and meaningful information their way.

Pass along articles and blogs: If you read something that you think someone or a group of people in your network should know, pass it along to them. Imagine the impact of a business associate receiving a copied or cut-out article with a personal note.

“Hey Jim, I thought you might find this interesting. Thanks, Matt”

Believe me, if the information is relevant and good, they will appreciate it and remember it and you. Even if they’ve already seen the article.

Pass along opportunities: You hear of business and personal needs all the time. Keep mental note because it is very likely you meet people who can take care of those needs as well. Make the connection – pass the opportunity along.

Don’t network when you need it

Okay, that’s not exactly true. You need to network when you need it but it is much more important and impactful to network when you don’t need it. Then when you do need it – end of a contract or job – reaching out is a natural byproduct of the value you’ve been providing.

Coming soon: Networking on Facebook and other social sites – what NOT to do.

Posted in Blog, Coaching.

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