When discussing business networking, everyone must have come across the saying that -‘the more the better’. When we talk about business network, it must be one that grows continuously. But this is absolutely not the case in the real world.
To better understand the situation, consider that you are in the process of creating a kitchen garden. You visit every shop in your town and collect the plants you like. Returning home you’re exhausted but completely satisfied. You continue to do this in a cyclic manner and collect as many plants as you can for your garden. Every plant is a prised acquisition for your garden. With the garden flooded with so many plants, you’re not able to give proper attention to every specific plant which leads to their degradation!
The same goes with our business networks as well. As we increase our number of connections gradually, we get less and less time to nurture those relationships. Hence it’s crucial to set a bar to the number of connections that can be handled by you without any degradation issues. The capacity of relationships we can handle is limited. According to a recent survey, a normal human being can handle a maximum of 250 relationships. If you want to handle more connections than this, then you have to get help. In fact, it becomes very stressful if you try to connect with everyone from college as well as the ones you bump into on a regular basis. By taking the same analogy of the kitchen garden, we will try to better understand the professional business network.
Make a strategy while you sow the seeds: It is not advisable to be with some of your close buddies all the time. To make a relationship work best, it should be close but not too close. You should diversify your friends group in a similar way to designing a garden, by acquiring varied plants of adequate number. With a diverse business network, one not only has access to resources but newer markets leading to greater opportunities.
Look for cross-pollination: You must be involved in various networks like those from school, sports, work as well as neighbourhood. You might be at the border of some networks while at the core of others. There are many advantages of being at the core of any network. You can get people from different networks together in times of need, this is said to be a key skill of an entrepreneur. You can have the benefit of enlisting the help of those by acting as a bridge between your various connections. The problems or the opportunities in a network can cater the need of some other person in another business network.
Variety should be given importance over quantity: Everyone likes to be around someone who can teach you something new. Identifying your own unique skills is the first step after which you should be looking for people whose interest differs from yours but acts as a perfect complement. If your networks are completely from your own field then there is every chance of getting redundant information in addition to procuring information that might be of no use to you. If you efficiently influence the people in your connection and have a good relationship with them then you will be known in a broader business network (the networks of your friends) via word-of-mouth.
So it can be said that instead of trying to manage every suit in the room, you should focus on your own particular groups and all others will be taken care of. Let’s look at some of the ways to get the maximum benefit out of your relationship capital.
8 Quick Ways to Build an Effective Business Network
- Diversification is the mantra: If you want to be innovative then the perspective of people from varied backgrounds can help you reach your target earlier. The network you create should be such that it helps you find 10 more paths towards your goal.
- Curate: Building your business network is not about collecting business cards off every person you meet. This only creates clutter instead of creating stronger networks. If you are keen on building an efficient network then you should look for people who can help you in times of need.
- Bridges can solve the problem: It’s not easy to build a strong business network which also requires a lot of time. This is where building your primary circle strategically will help. Give more attention to people who have a powerful network of their own. In any event, even if your contacts cannot help you directly they will surely link you with the right person.
- Face-to face interaction counts a lot: Try to have as many face to face interactions with the members of your business network as possible. Make sure that your focus is on the person in front of you rather than on your phone whenever you are in a networking event. This small investment will give you heavy returns in future.
- Have a giving attitude: Always have a helping nature and seek nothing in return, you never know what you can get back in the future. If you give without any prior motive then the receiver feels inclined to help you in the future. All you need to do is spare some time for someone who needs help.
- Care for your MVC: Your MVC (Most valuable clients) can prove to be your greatest assets. With the business they refer to you, they work as a marketing team on your behalf. It is important to look for those who seem to be most involved.
- Never overlook: The best way to optimise a business network is not let it languish. All it takes is a simple phone call or drop an email or catch-up for a coffee to keep your network intact. Try not to overdue the catch-ups and calls, as this may have the opposite effect of keeping your networks alive.
- Always appreciate: Everyone likes to be appreciated no matter how small the reason may be. So make it a habit of saying thank you for any favour, big or small done for you. Always do something nice for your networks to return the favour or to help your team mates out.