Successful and wealthy professionals are very peculiar about who they choose to associate with.
Their goal is to develop relationships and position themselves alongside other success-minded individuals. When they come across an individual who fits the bill, they devote an enormous amount of their time and energy into building a solid relationship.
With today's immense competition and the growing global market, relationships lay the foundation for long-term success.
Even with our rapidly, emerging technology, the art of network building and maintenance remains a mystery to many. Here are five steps you can take to building a powerful network of your own.
1. Create a list.
Networking usually means speaking to a countless number different professionals in a short span of time. In turn, this leads to information overload.
Organize a list of professionals as you meet them, and include distinguishing labels that will help you to remember their contact information, the company or industry they represent, their expertise, and notes about your conversation.
"This is crucial, as entrepreneurs are going to need help with their business, whether in manufacturing, financing, marketing or some other vital step," says Nathan Resnick, CEO at Sourcify.
2. Do your homework.
It's usually possible to research influencers' past writing and speeches, interests, and pet causes with a simple online search. Don't waste their time asking basic questions or for information that is easily available online. Instead, find common points and use those to find areas where you might connect.
For example, LinkedIn's mission is to "Connect the world's professionals to make them more productive and successful." You can never study your LinkedIn profile too much. Try to take the time to see who is connected to who and how. Following everyone's updates by logging into your profile each morning is the obvious answer, but studying your own InMap is a good way to get a different perspective.
3. Make yourself valuable.
"To make your connection valuable to the other party, add value to every relationship you have and expect nothing in return," says serial entrepreneur Deep Patel, author of A Paperboy's Fable: The 11 Principles of Success. If that value comes from a healthy and purposeful place, it will come back tenfold. A great way to do this is to empower people with relevant feedback or an analogous story to their area of interest.
4. Stay relevant.
Be sure to send a quick follow-up email either later in the day or the next day after meeting someone for coffee or lunch. It's proper etiquette that will keep you from looking like you're selfishly using the other person.
Following up within 12 hours is a good rule of thumb. It solidifies the relationship and fosters further communication. Then every three or four months, send a quick update email or article that could be useful. Go out of your way to be a connection that person can rely on.
5. Pay it forward--offer help.
The final key to success builds on old fashioned notions. You will only be as successful as you help others to be successful. Help others to achieve. Introduce them to potential clients, recommend them, offer help and suggestions, and send business their way. It is most important to do this when you are not looking for something from them. Be sincere and care about their well-being. It is a hallmark of leadership that will set you apart.
Keep a list of your top five to 10 networking partners and do something each week to add value to one person's life or business. You might send them a book or set up a lunch to introduce them to one of your other contacts. This habit can help you be proactive about staying in touch with your most powerful contacts. Just as with fitness or investing, the most successful people are the ones who choose to be consistent in their actions.
The art of networking is one with many rewards. Master this important skill set and new business doors will fly open for you. You will be enriched by the relationships you make as you help others to achieve their goals while meeting your own objectives.
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