Your network is already big, but is it useful? Is it just a bunch of LinkedIn contacts, email addresses and mobile phone numbers? Or is it more than that? When it comes to BD, your network is a critical asset. From it will come new clients and introductions to new clients. You build it and invest in it so it serves you. It’s there to help you achieve your commercial and career goals.
Some people in your network are in there by accident. Some by design. Some benefit you, some don’t. Many are neutral – you know each other or know of each other, but your lives don’t really cross. What’s clear is that BD is a team sport. You can’t do it on your own. Trouble is, you either don’t ask for help or you don’t have the right people to go to for help. If you’re doing it right, your BD network is made up of:
- people who have already bought from you (past and present clients)
- people who could buy from you (prospects, leads, targets, pipeline)
- people who have influence with either of the above (introducers, other professionals, referral partners, door openers)
- people who support you in your BD efforts (mentors, coaches, advisors, colleagues, friends, admin)
A good starting point is recalibrating your existing network. If they are not adding value to your BD efforts, why are they there? You may need to cull some connections and streamline your network. If it’s big and unwieldy, you’ll get lost in the technology and the numbers. You’ll get bogged down in the myriad of relationships.
A great question to keep asking with individual contacts is this: ‘Is the juice worth the squeeze?’
By getting rid of the deadwood and adding new connections, you keep your network lean and active. You identify gaps and purposefully look for the right kind of people who can help you.
Good networkers ask questions because they know it leads to conversations. These are the currency of relationships. Relationships lead to opportunities in their many forms, which is the way to generate business.
Serving your network is the best way to leverage it. Finding out how you can help people, connect people and serve people gives you ‘money in the bank.’ Relationship capital. Human resource. A well do draw from and tap into. Insight and intel on who people know and need to know.
When you model the behaviour you want from your network, it gives back. it gives you leverage. It invokes the law of reciprocality.People want to (and feel obliged to) help you. The BNI maxim of ‘givers gain’ describes this well.
Networking is a long term game. Your business and opportunities in 3-6 months time will be a reflection of your activity NOW. If your pipeline is anaemic and dry NEXT quarter, it’s because you haven’t done the necessary prospecting and networking THIS quarter.
You have a huge advantage doing this now. At this point in history. There has never been a better time to build and leverage a powerful network. With social media, online platforms and mobile phones, there is no excuse not to be connected. To know and be known.
Start be re-awakening your existing network. Re-connecting. Re-introducing yourself. There are lots of ways to do this – another blog. You must stay front of mind. You must let them know you’re around. They cant use you, introduce you or recommend if they don’t know you’re still in the game and looking for work.
Offer yourself to key people in your network. Find out what they’re working on. What you can help them with. Who you can perhaps introduce them to. Even if they don’t need you right now, the gesture to serve gains you leverage and visibility. You can’t expect the support and favour of people if you’ve been absent for a while or not being willing to help them.
You can’t afford to sit back and wait for your network to serve you. The mindset you need to channel is one of proactive serving. Most people won’t take you up on it, but they’ll register that you’ve reached out. They’ll clock that you’ve offered support. And they’ll remember that gesture when it comes to you asking them for something.
Recalibrate your network and as a priority, get to work on serving those who can best serve you. That’s smart networking. For a chat about how to double your networking capability and generate significant sustainable growth for your firm, get in touch>>