People who meet me in Northampton and Milton Keynes are always saying that I seem to know everyone who goes out networking for their business. It's not true, of course ...
There are over 65 million people in the UK and according to the Federation of Small Businesses 5.5 million of those are running businesses.
Even if you narrow that down to just Northampton and Milton Keynes, my business area, that's over 370,000 businesses and I certainly don't know them all.
Well, whoever they want to meet I probably know someone who knows that person. Or failing that, I know someone who knows someone who knows someone, who knows that person. After all, that's how a network works right?
Research shows that psychologically, humans are only capable of maintaining about 150 relationships. This is known as Dunbar's number and I've posted about this before. Well, imagine that I have 150 business relationships and those people also know 150 other people ... that's 22,500.
Now, if each of those 22,500 knows 150 other people, that's a total network of 3,375,000 people. In reality, some of those people will overlap and some will not be in business, but even if you half it to 75 people, that's still over 400,000 individuals who you have access to.
Customers, clients, colleagues, suppliers, event attendees, social media connections, others they do business with personally, friends and relations; the list goes on.
So they know just as many people in business as I do. Oh dear, I'm not extraordinary at all, everyone else in business, whether they're using it effectively or not, has a wide and diverse network.
What is different for those of us who have a reputation for knowing everyone, is our willingness to share those contacts. We're givers by nature and incorporate giving as part of our business strategy.
We believe that we will be more successful if we're generous and share our network with others. The marvellous thing about that is it appears that we are right. Adam Grant's research detailed in his book Give and Take demonstrates that the most successful people in business are high givers.
Yes, in a world of givers there are also takers who take advantage. So successful people have a strategy attached to the people they include in their close business network. They ensure that those 150 people who they focus their time and effort on are other high givers too.
The answer to my question is that you already have a wide and diverse network; now add some giving tactics around how you use it.
Give because you can. Take an interest in the people you know, find out what their dreams, plans, interests concerns and challenges are. Seek out ways you can help that person and if you can't help directly, put them in touch with others who can.
Surround yourself with other high givers. They might not be able to give to you, but if your network is made of givers who give to other givers too, then you can actually work the pool of over 400,000 people you collectively know.
Do they give you time to talk and keep their attention on you? Are they interested in what you have to say? Do they ask questions to deepen their own understanding?
Do they offer help almost immediately? Most likely something small. For example, relevant information, pointing you in the right direction, inviting you to something (not selling to you), or introducing you to someone who can help.
Have they helped others you know? Are they known as someone who knows everyone? Equally, do they give you the opportunity to give back? Do they share their need for help too?
Build your wide and diverse network full of people like this and soon you'll have a reputation as someone who knows everyone, is helpful and generous and worth helping in return.
What a fantastic way to build your business.
If you'd like to learn more about referral marketing then do give me a call on 07970 638857 and let's have a chat and see how I can help you.