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Wise Ways to Build Your Network

The old adage, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” isn’t as harsh as it sounds. Underscore it with the phrase “quality over quantity,” and you’re ready to zoom in on the best network for your own business and for your clients.

“Networking, building relationships, growing your circle…” — this is the kind of business banter we hear all the time and today, there’s an added expectation to build your virtual reach online with people you’ve potentially never seen or even talked to before. However, I value building strong relationships that have an impact, whether they are bringing joy to my personal life or guidance into my professional life.

When I think about the ecosystem of connections that will help a client, it is key to help them make strategic decisions in regards to timing, budget and value proposition. Whether we’re looking for an influencer to invest time within our client’s industry or deciding the best way to use a sponsorship, we must always consider which partnerships we should seriously capitalize on.

Your core group of connections will add value to your business in one or more of the following ways:

  • They will be informative – you call upon these individuals because they always have knowledge that you don’t, and they often feel the same way about you!
  • They are influential – this is your higher-ranked networker with significant clout. At any given event they are able to add value and introduce connections beyond your existing network.
  • They are your cheerleader – everyone needs a fan club; these individuals are fantastic friends or colleagues that energize you and fuel your creative thinking.
  • They are your manager/mentor – these are individuals who know you and have known you in a work environment. They are more senior than you and you have been wise to maintain great relations with them.
  • They help you balance your work life and your personal life – these individuals keep you centered.

Think about your current business goals and the existing relationships you’ve established in your network. Is your network too insular? Have you asked your current connections to help your network grow? What kinds of results would you like to see from your business network?

As your personal network grows, you can simultaneously begin to broaden your role as a thought leader in order to position yourself and your business as a worthy network connection. You can do this in a number of ways:

  • Publish byline articles and blogs that will be shared online to relevant audiences to grow your reach and reputation.
  • Arrange speaking engagements. For example, the best panel picks at SXSW are from those who have pulled together solid connections to create a well-rounded and interesting panel of experts.
  • Create the networking opportunity. Play the host and have a draw by developing an event like a client conference. Q2 hosts a client conference each year for more than 500 bankers and credit union executives looking at mobile banking platforms. Their reach has grown considerably as they continue to bring in guest speakers people are excited about.

The key is to understand your network. Leverage wisely and broaden as needed. Never underestimate the value of your relationships and be sure to keep them protected and nurtured. Remember, to maintain your network you will always need to work harder than those you are networking with. Always be ready to add value and do so naturally. Most importantly, the best companies know to surround themselves with advisors that can bring new ideas and connections to them; find those people and be that trusted person.

What are some of your best networking tips? Let us know in the comments below!

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