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How To Create Your Personal Network

 

A Very Personal Network

What is a personal network, and why would I want one?  

That is the question that is often wondered, but not always asked, by those seeking to build a business and reputation for their products and services. For many people who are in bricks and mortar businesses, the idea of networking online can seem like a rather strange and maybe even silly idea. I sell to my local customers, why would I need to have a website, or network online? Is a question. In this article I hope to give you some answers to both of these questions, and some ideas to get you started. Online, and face-to-face.

Networking What Is It? 

Networking begins as basic communication between people who share an interest in each other and their business, for the purpose of advancing opportunities for each of those who participate in the network.

Networking - What It Is Not

While many people attend networking events, just turning up and handing out a mass of business cards to people you do not know, and who nothing about you, is not networking. While many of us would like to help others, sometimes we do not make it easy for them. One of the simplest ways that we can do that, is to have a very clear and precise description for when we are asked the question... What do you do?.

How Networking Can Help You 

Networking is a way of extending your reach, so that your products or services can be known by as many people in your market, as possible. It can help you develop new business, but it can also help you meet people who can become important to your business and personal growth in many ways. 

The woman who is in business but serving a different market than yours, can turn out to be friends with someone who could become your largest customer, or your best supplier or your inspiration for a new line in your business. The man who is just a fast food restaurant owner, may introduce you to one of his patrons, who needs just what you provide. We cannot know who will be uncovered in the process of networking. And looks can be deceiving, so do not be too hasty to make judgments! 

None of these opportunities can or will open up for you, without first taking the steps to build your network. As you nurture your relationships within the network, opportunities can come. In establishing those ties, it is important that you communicate what it is that you do, and to be clear in the values that are important to you, so that those with similar values will seek you out. No surprises. If you are a person of your word, that will show in all of your dealings with customers, as it will with your network members. This is the basis of your social capital, and it is this asset, that networking will grow from.


Great Places To Network 

Find out what networking opportunities are available in your local area. Women business networks, Chambers of Commerce, service clubs, all these and more are available in each location. I recommend BNI (Business Network International) for those with a real interest in developing a working business network. It is a network that you pay to join, and must commit to, if you wish to participate. The very structure and formality of BNI, gives it something that many such network groups do not have, namely a commitment and accountability, together with comprehensive training and a kind of discipline. That is so valuable, not just in potential leads, over time, but in terms of personal development and growth as an individual and entrepreneur. 

Remember:

Nurture the people in your network.

Be interested in what they do, and how they do it.

Give first!

Know what you do, and have a well rehearsed short description to use when asked.

Program your networking activities and follow-through routine.

Do what you say you will do.

Use the services of your network where and when you can.

Recommend the services of members of your network when you learn of an opportunity that might match.

Treat the people you are referred to as a VIP even if you do no business on this occasion. And always edify and speak well of the person by whom they were referred.

Treat those who refer business to you as a VIP and report back when you get a referral, to let them know what happened.


Online 

There are many social networking groups for business now, online. Check out LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and the like, and add your profile, and grow your connections via these sites.

Local AND Online

Remember too, for those who have a business in the US, then you can register for your free listing on Merchant Circle, and build your network on line with merchants from all over the country, as well as establishing bonds with the merchants in your local area. This gives you a perfect reason to go and start talking with merchants and service providers in your immediate location, and begin developing some relationships that are local, in-person, and online. A perfect combination!


In Conclusion

Networking begins as a community of people relating to each other as people, and sharing a common purpose. In establishing your network, it becomes your responsibility to nurture that network. Understand the difference, between worthwhile information and spam, when you contact members.

Think about how you can add value, not just for your clients, but for your networking partners as well. Be the example of what you would like them to be, and remember that they are all deserving of your respect. Be grateful for the referrals you receive from your network. Recognize the value that each brings to your network and reward good behaviour. Share items that are of particular interest to individuals. Know the individuals well enough to be able to notice items that would interest them. The value of your personal network, will be a direct reflection of the value you place on it, and the commitment you make to creating it.

One of my favourite quotes:

My position in life is equal to the sum of all the decisions I have made, or allowed others to make for me. What I choose, is what I am.

I am yet to discover who the author is, but I believe this totally. In many ways, I think it applies just as well, when we talk about building a network.

So consider

What kind of network will you build?

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Tags:

social networking referrals business promotion small business relationships

 

@Lindy Asimus 2014 |  Business Coaching, Social Media Marketing | Newcastle NSW Australia 0403 365 855