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We’ve all heard the classic saying, “your network is your net worth” but actually building that network can be challenging at times. How do you go about forging new relationships? What are the right and wrong ways to create new connections? Is it true that you should never ask someone if you can “pick their brain?”
After years of creating my own network, I believe that the three following tips will help you to propel your very best business relationships:
1. Think of your network as people who you can help
Usually, entrepreneurs begin their network creation by thinking about all the people who can help them achieve their business goals. This is the wrong way to go about it.
People can tell if you’re forging a relationship with them with ulterior motives (such as their investment, their network, or something else they can do for you), or if you’re forging a relationship with their best interest at heart. Reciprocity is the best currency of relationships. No one owes you anything. Rather, see how you can help – and do so without any expectation.
For example, if you have been hoping to connect with a managing partner at a prestigious venture capital firm to pitch your startup, don’t start by pitching or asking for help. Rather, think about how you can help them. Do you have a connection who can include their name in an upcoming press piece? Can you share a survey they created on your social media to show support? Even if you think someone can only help you, there are likely plenty of ways you can help them – even if it’s just by leaving a five star review for their book on Amazon.
Even the language of the word “help” is useful. For example, if you’re looking to be introduced to someone as a business referral, it sounds more service-oriented to say something like, “Do you know anyone else who is looking for a social media manager? I’d love to help them reach new metrics and levels of engagement.”
“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” – Dale Carnegie
2. Tailor your network to people who can help you grow
Now, the real reason people say “your network is your net worth” is because your network is a reflection of who you are and who you are becoming. If you’re around people who aren’t focused on personal or business development and they stay stagnant, you aren’t doing yourself any favors. Yes, this may mean you have to trim your network – there doesn’t have to be any dramatic ending of relationships, just be conscious of who you choose to spend time around.
People who can help you grow aren’t always people who can directly help you in your career endeavors. Rather, these are people who are always setting the bar a little higher for themselves. It’s inspirational to hear from people with consistent morning routines, productivity regimens, and habits that make you want to be better. The more you can flock with people like this, the more you will grow and meet more people who can help.
3. Join mastermind groups
One of the very best ways to meet people who will help you grow is to join a mastermind group. If you haven’t before, they usually take place online or in-person, and consist of like-minded people – whether they be entrepreneurs or business owners. The name sounds fancy, but really the purpose masterminds serve is to bring together these like minded people and see how the exchange of ideas and asks for advice can help everyone.
Now, masterminds can be quite expensive – in the $2,000-5,000 range. While that may be expensive for a group you can exchange ideas with, you’re actually paying for more than that. When these mastermind groups are expertly curated, you can expect that the people you’ll be working with and helping will be people who have their own networks they can introduce you to or plug you into – and ways that they can help you.
“When a group of individual brains are coordinated and function in harmony, the increased energy created through that alliance becomes available to every individual brain in that group.” – Napoleon Hill
Everyone knows someone who knows someone. Since masterminds are built on reciprocity, it’s a great way to see what you can offer and what you can get, which is a bit less quid pro quo in a group. For example – maybe you have a business contact for Peter but he doesn’t have what you’re looking for, but Sarah does have that contact. As long as everyone’s participating in the exchange, magic happens.
Beyond the creation of the relationships, make sure to nurture them. Take note of birthdays and send congratulatory messages if a connection lands a big deal or wins an award. Continuously see how you can help them – far beyond your initial offer. This is how you propel your best business relationships.
Do you like networking with people? If so, do you have any tips for our readers? Share your thoughts on it below!