Should You Have A Wide And Diverse Network?
It's a fantastic way to build your business ...
POSTED BY JACKY SHERMAN ON 13/09/2017 @ 8:00AM
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 ...
Yes, I have a wide and diverse network, but I try to fill it with givers!
copyright: varunalight / 123rf stock photo
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.
"So why do people have that impression?"
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.
"Everyone who is in business will quite quickly acquire more than 75 people in their database!"
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.
"However, there is a fine line between being generous and being used by others!"
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.
"How will you recognise a high giver when you meet them? Look for giving behaviours!"
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? It's a great compliment to be asked for advice or help.
Ahh, I hear you say, but isn't that taking behaviour? It's a matter of degree. Is the 'ask' too big for the stage of your relationship or simply a blatant sales pitch?
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're already a giver and would like to join my community of givers, why not call me on 07970 638857 or click here to ping me an email and let's explore some ways to help each other.
Until next time ...
More about Jacky Sherman ...
I help people build and maintain productive working relationships both with their work colleagues and with a wider network to win more business. I do this by combining my skills in coaching, mediation and training with my extensive experience in senior management.
What I love most about my work is when my clients get those a-ha moments because I know they have seen for themselves the way that they want to move forward. Then they will achieve their ambitions.
Helping people who are having challenges with their working relationships gives me enormous pleasure. It was my privilege when working in health care to see how people working together can make the impossible seem easy and accomplish miracles as a result.
So helping people build or restore strong relationship with their colleagues makes even the hardest work easier, alleviates distress for the individual and reduces problems for the whole organisation.
In all this work trust is an essential ingredient to winning business so most of my work comes through referrals. Referrals come through strong business relationships so it was a natural extension for me to work with Ascentiv and train others in how to get consistent and predictable referrals from their network.
What a fantastic way to earn a living!
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