Networking and Relations... if you are a follower of my blog or my social media (if not, what are you waiting?) you should already now that these concepts are crucial for me.
I like an African proverb that says: If you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far, go with someone. And that is true, you need help if you want to go far.
However, must of us struggle while networking. The main problem is that we limit to our industry. That means we usually network only with people of our niche. This is not bad, but, it might be limiting us in certain ways.
If you want to change the way you network, I want to give some tips. These tips are the ones that changed my networking. You might find them useful and more than that, I hope they can change the way you network.
Are you in? Let's go.
The problem with narrow networking
What most people usually do, is growing their connections within their vicinity. Some people might have certain connections outside their group. But I am sure they are not that many. This is pretty common for most people. To be honest it does not look that bad. However, there are certain risks in this way of doing things.
If your connections don't spread enough, you are limiting your options. For example, if you need a career change and you only know people within the industry you want to get out... things will get harder. Another case: you may need to solve certain situations that might need outer help. If you don't have certain connections it will be harder to find the right person.
Another risk you are taking is becoming subjective. This is because you are only getting the global perspective of your industry. You need to have both bonding and bridging capital. Research shows that companies with more diverse connections enjoy a better financial performance.
If you are only networking within your industry, you risk getting a lopsided mindset. In this ever-changing world of business is this kind of thinking is a big no-no.
Networking to increase your relationship capital.
I want to give you 4 tips to increase your relationship capital. These are proven strategies to increase the quality of your networking while increasing your relationship capital.
- REVIEW YOUR EXISTING CONNECTIONS
Before taking any action in anything, the most logical step is to make an analysis. Who is your inner circle? who are the 5 people you spend the most time with?
After reviewing this, how diverse is your relationship network? If the balance inclines to a specific area by 80 percent, it is time to start diversifying. How to diversify? Start looking for older colleagues or friends who are working in different fields and invite them to meet. This meet won't be for business but for reach and get in touch. More often than not, they will accept the invite.
- SCHEDULE TIME FOR NETWORKING
If you need to make connections, make networking a priority. Schedule a weekly networking time. This is key.
This can be harder if you are an introvert. But believe me, it is worth going out of your comfort zone. As an introverted, you might be inclined to avoid public events, but this will reduce your circle of connections. Don't do this. Networking rarely becomes urgent hence people don't pay attention to it. Don't put it aside or you will regret it later.
- ASK FOR RECOMMENDATIONS
Within your own industry is hard to get recommendations. This is because everyone is looking to keep their garden watered. However, when you start networking outside your circle you gain the chance to get connected to others that might need your services.
- DON'T EXPECT IMMEDIATE RETURNS
If you are choosing to do this (you should), don't expect to see immediate results. This is a network that takes some time to create. Most people abandon this effort because they don't see a way this can bring them a return. For example, if you are in the business of flowers, you might not get much by connecting with a movie director. But if see far in the future you might end up needing a commercial or something. Or he could know some CEO you might want to get in touch. Do not... I repeat DO NOT underestimate the power of networking.
While ROI is always an amazing thing to expect is not everything. You network for the sake that you are a human and you were made to connect. I once attended a meeting, where everyone was on a different job field. I thought I was losing my time there. But then, I saw one attendant who was a singer... getting in touch with a record label executive. These two started talking and I think it ended up with a record deal. From that day, I looked networking with other eyes. Today I am an advocate of it.
It is such an Easy task to network with people with our same interests. But when we go the extra mile and start expanding the bridging capital we invest our time in broadening our influence, chances and career expansion.
All this while making friends... so what are you waiting?
Are you the kind of people who networks a lot? Or you are just finding out the benefits of having a strong relationship capital. In any case, I hope you have learned about the benefits of networking. Let's connect, follow me on my social media so we can improve our relationship capital. Also, share this article with your friends, that is an amazing way to network too!