You may be wondering just what an open network is, what can it do for me, and how do I utilize its power? No, this post is not about computer networking equipment, but about networking with other people. Networking is one of the most important skills, if not the most important skill, that all entrepreneurs must learn.
No matter the skill, product, or service you provide, it is never a good thing to go at it alone. I am sure that everyone has heard the old adage, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” This statement is more true than most people will ever fully understand.
An open network is simple; it allows others access to your network of people whom you have met over time and associated with to the point that you can make an introduction. It is common for people to hold back at this point and not want to share their network until the other person shares theirs. This is very similar to the awkward movie scene drug deal where the conversation goes, “You got the money?” “Ya, I got the money. You got the stuff?” and so on. This is no way to deal in business, as you know, unless you enjoy Mexican Standoffs.
The best thing we can learn to do is to spend more time networking and really getting to know the people we are networking with and what their needs are. When talking to people, make sure to take note of things they say and make sure to remember or write them down. Items such as how many children they have, how old are they, are they married, what do they do, and how you can help them, are all important details. These are pieces of information that create a bond where the person notices you care enough to take note.
After you begin to build a good core group of people in your network, it is time to open your network. Take some time in front of your notes, thinking about your network. Think who do you know that should know someone else that you know. Then, take the time to think what is the best way to introduce these two people. Is it face to face, Facebook, Skype, at an upcoming networking event, or maybe a phone call? Once you have established these guidelines, it is time to make the meeting happen.
Once the meeting is accomplished, you have now established an open network and you have set the gears in motion. Continue this process for your ENTIRE career, over and over again until you have it down to a science and are introducing great people who are making amazing things happen. As time continues, you will begin to notice the benefits of all your efforts. The fact that you were willing to open your network to others, shows them something about you that they may not understand but they definitely respect.
These networking acquaintances will have a new found respect for you because you offered something to them that most people only negotiate or reciprocate with. Now that you are on that level, the trust and bond is built and they will begin to expose their network to you, or even better, the next time they hear of a project in your field they will throw your name in.
I will leave you with one last piece of advice, and that is be genuine. Doing an open network for the sole purpose of making money or new leads will be your demise. People will be able to feel the difference between a truly, well thought out introduction versus a waste of time where you hope to get a lead out of them. Take time and work only with the best people and never refer someone who is not competent for the job at hand and you will find success.
Please make sure to keep up with our blog to hear more about the power of an open network and what it can do for you. We will examine how to make new connections and what to do with them. Thanks for reading.
Shawn Patrick Moloney