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An A-Z of Networking – introduction

June 30, 2017

Hello and welcome

This A-Z has been compiled from sources gathered over the last 25 years – many before Google – it is by no means exhaustive or I trust exhausting; merely something that will help you get more from your networking.

Originally written or should I say compiled as a resource for members of Business Network SW and then developed into a series of seminars.  Now it’s the basis for a number of blog posts which I trust that you will find informative, useful and – dare I say, even worth sharing and ultimately even engage with.

I will serialise in posts over the coming weeks and months and it will develop as more knowledge and wisdom becomes available – which it undoubtedly will!

 

Introduction

Networking is not new – a browse through the history books and you will see that the masons back in 900AD met to talk about the latest developments in stone and what new buildings were being constructed and what expertise was needed.

Before then the Greeks and Romans developed agoras – areas where people could get together and talk.  Looking back during an Inter rail trip around Europe; the agora in Athens is something that has stuck with me – back in 1982 I didn’t know I’d be writing about networking……

450px-AncientAgoraofAthensColour

View of the ancient agora in Athens.

 

The Wikipedia entry says “Business networking is a socioeconomic activity by which groups of like-minded business people recognise, create, or act upon business opportunities. A business network is a type of social network whose reason for existing is business activity. There are several prominent business networking organisations that create models of networking activity that, when followed, allow the business person to build new business relationships and generate business opportunities at the same time. Many business people contend business networking is a more cost-effective method of generating new business than advertising or public relations efforts. This is because business networking is a low-cost activity that involves more personal commitment than company money.

As an example, a business network may agree to meet weekly or monthly with the purpose of exchanging business leads and referrals with fellow members. To complement this activity, members often meet outside this circle, on their own time, and build their own one-to-one relationship with the fellow member.

Business networking can be conducted in a local business community, or on a larger scale via the Internet. Business networking websites have grown over recent years due to the Internet’s ability to connect people from all over the world.

Many business people contend business networking is a more cost-effective method of generating new business than advertising or public relations efforts. This is because business networking is a low-cost activity that involves more personal commitment than company money. Country-specific examples of informal networking are guanxi in China, blat in Russia, good ol’ boy network in America, and old boy network in the UK.”

 

A long definition that explains networking in it’s broadest context.

I will use a Robert Kiyosaki quote……

“The richest people in the world look for and build networks, everyone else looks for work.”

With this in mind the A-Z begins

A

Abundance mentality – If I breathe quicker than you do I deprive you? Covey coined the idea of abundance mentality or abundance mind set, a concept in which a person believes there are enough resources and success to share with others. He contrasts this with the scarcity mind set (i.e. destructive and unnecessary competition), which is founded on the idea that, if someone else wins or is successful in a situation, that means you lose.  With no consideration of the possibility of all parties winning (in some way or another) in a given situation.

Individuals with an abundance mentality reject the notion of zero-sum games and are able to celebrate the success of others rather than feel threatened by it.  Something that is apparent at those networking events with a difference.  From Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Summed up “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” ~ Zig Ziglar

Arrive early for best results.  Other early arrivals will be more available and easier to approach with fewer people in the room. Beginning a conversation among the first-to-arrive crowd means you’ll already know a few people once the rest of the attendees show up. Plus, you’ll automatically be in the middle of the party as others come in around you. If you arrive late, prepare yourself to face a lot of people already engaged in conversation.  See Proxemics…

B

Be a good listener and be there 100%.  Listen when others are speaking. Instead of feigning interest, listen attentively to what the other person is saying. When you take the time to listen to someone, he will feel comfortable around you.  Summed up beautifully with the Chinese symbol…

Chinese listen

Bouncea fabulous book by Matthew Syed “explains why some people thrive under pressure and others choke, looking at the value of innate ability against that of practice, hard work and will. It shows how competition provides a master key with which to unlock the mysteries of success”

The relevance to networking is that Bounce introduces the idea that it takes 10,000 hours of perfect, purposeful practice to become world class in any chosen field.  That’s a lot of just attending events but when you look at it from a different perspective – that of your own “networking life” you can include events + preparation + reading + research + follow up + learning from good meetings/interactions + learning from the great networkers and 10,000 hours doesn’t seem quite as much!

Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers also alluded to this principle “The emerging picture from such studies is that ten thousand hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert – in anything…no-one has yet found a case in which true world-class expertise was accomplished in less time”

 

Brand You – this concept was introduced to me by Julian Summerhayes many years ago.

Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, once said, “Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room” and he could well have been referring to this article in FAST Co. from 1997 (31/8/1997!)  The Brand Called You

Big companies understand the importance of brands. Today, in the Age of the Individual, you have to be your own brand. Here’s what it takes to be the CEO of Me Inc.

You – your brand is made up of the following components – all of which you take with you when yo go networking – and not just networking – they are with you wherever you are so if you want your brand to be
brandyou2.png

Talent this is the organisation – it could be a community where a diverse group of people have the freedom to excel in what they do – it could be just you (or you and your network).  If you listed all of the skills, experience and knowledge that you (and your team and/or network) possesses – not just work related  – what would it look like? And then ask yourself to what extent are you using the talent available?
Ambition – shared ambition is what galvanise all other activity.  If the ambition can demonstrate how the organisation will make a dramatic difference through common values, people will sign up to be a part of the cause – team members, customers….
Performance  – progress towards the ambition, where the talented people take pride in what they do and continually add value through discipline, hard work and continuous learning – looking to deliver the exceptional customer experience.
Experience – Winners create ‘relational’ experiences with their customers/clients (as opposed to ‘transactional’) – a customer experience second to none.  I’ll introduce Guy Arnold here from Sales through Service – a world class approach to delivering that exceptional customer experience.   Creating great client/customer experiences provides talent with personally and professionally rewarding challenges.

Here’s a thought – “Ask a group of clients/customers to join you for lunch” (I know  a great one!) ask them to describe their experience as a client/customer. Ask ‘if they were king, what would they wish for as a customer/client?’ Really listen to the ideas.
Brand –  the description of what you stand for. A brand, described in an engaging and emotional way, can retain existing clients/customers as well as reach out for new ones.   Does it make sense to your customers and potential customers or is it a “directors ego trip”?  Why not ask customers/clients to give you three words that describe your reputation – it could be over that lunch!

Execution  – focus on work that matters; work that will create outstanding value for the client/customer. Talented people work together to constantly look for new and better ways of delivering their commitments in the pursuit of their ambition.  What would turn your internal or external customers/clients into raving fans?

Architecture – the structure/framework that supports the on-going relationships between all the elements that enable people to pursue the ambition.  Which components are enabling talent to do a great job and those that are getting in the way?

Brandyou.png

Coming next some C’s and D’s……

Thank you for reading this far – the next instalment will be available soon and please feel free to comment, share.

 

If you would like to connect then you can find me on

LinkedIn

Twitter

Have a great day and enjoy your networking and make it enjoyable and beneficial for those that you meet!

sean-signature-picture

Sean Humby

Director and host – Business Network (SW) – monthly lunch time networking events in the Bristol.

Business Network SW was established in 1993 and for the last 24 years has been helping businesses build effective business relationships.

 

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