How to grow your personal network - Gulf Business
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How to grow your personal network

How to grow your personal network

Iftars and suhours are an ideal time to network. BNI International lists a few tips on how to expand your contact list.

Why are some people more successful than the others? Why do some people always seem to get better deals, more sales, bigger promotions or just live a better life? Are they highly qualified, highly skilled or just offering a better product? Most people would attribute their success story to good luck or the result of being in the right place at the right time.

As you start to explore further, you will realise that highly accomplished people are mere ordinary people who possess highly refined networking skills. They achieve extraordinary results by continuing to connect with new people, cultivating emerging relationships and leveraging their networks.

There are two guiding principles successful people embody in their daily lives. Firstly, they surround themselves with like-minded people they want to work with. People who share the same values and passion. Secondly, they believe in the law of reciprocity – the spiritual ideal common to the world’s great moral systems: the concept of gaining through giving.

How and wHere to connect

Building connections with people provides an opportunity to strengthen your network. You never know who you will meet, who will refer you, introduce you or employ you. Here are three ways to grow your personal network:

1. Networking events – today there are numerous networking events catering to everyone from graduates and jobseekers to businessmen and industry honchos around the world.

The key is identifying which networks are frequented by the kind of people you may want to connect with.
Most people might find it difficult to walk up to a stranger and start a conversation. What is great about networking events is that the people who attend are there for the same purpose, which is to connect with others. This makes it easier to break the ice.

There are also abundant resources online providing tips on the art of networking.

2. Online – technological advancements have made it easier for people to express themselves and relay news through social media platforms. The idea is not to replace face-to-face opportunities with online networks but rather to use both and compliment each other. It’s in fact the best-yet way to connect across vast distances.

3. Think outside the box – don’t restrict yourself to networking events and social media. You can meet new people just about anywhere and any place you can think of. It’s all about engaging with people with the right intention.

Starting a conversation with a complete stranger to build a relationship is a sophisticated art and there are successful people who have mastered this. Again, tread with caution and seek professional advice before venturing here.

cultivating emerging relationsHips

Another way to approach this is by building your social capital. Once a connection is made there are certain rules to follow which will help you grow your network:

1. Be nice – professional etiquette, politeness and authenticity is the key here.

2. Be interested and not interesting – show an interest in what the other person is saying. Keep conversations active by listening and responding physically.

3. Get to know someone – this is the first step and will help you achieve your goals. Remember birthdays etc. and stay connected with the person.

4. Build a reputation – in a professional setting, people prefer to build business relationships with people they see as being valuable. Think about what you have to offer your network in terms of insight, information, research or other things they would want to know about.

5. Be visible – keep your network posted on your whereabouts. Communicate with people you want to be in touch with via email, blogging, social networking and, of course, in-person.

LEVERAGING YOUR NETWORK

An unmanaged network is worth about as much as not having a network at all. Networks need to be developed and maintained in order to drive value. This is how you can get more out of your network:

1. Always be willing to help – by helping people in your network get stronger, they may be in a better position to be able to help you in the future. According to the law of reciprocity, people may be more motivated to return the favour. Share your expertise and ideas. Promote your network’s work and accomplishments.

Be a connector. Business transactions are always mutually beneficial. One person is buying a product or service because it will benefit them in some way, while the other is selling a product to earn profits. If you connect two people you think who would benefit from knowing each other, you’re helping them as well as growing your network.

2. Ask for help – our fear of rejection and embarrassment restricts us from seeking help. Once we learn to overcome this fear, we become stronger in our networking. Building the right network and nurturing the relationships we have built will enable the network to function effectively.

3. Invest time and think from a long term perspective – building a network is a gradual process, which may not lead to results immediately. Keep up with contacts by simply communicating with them on a regular basis. Connections open doors but relationships close deals. Networking is not just about exchanging business cards, it’s about doing business. Networking is most valuable when long-lasting and mutually beneficial relationships are formed.

The primary reason to grow your personal network is to create your own de facto management team, a group of experts and contacts who can advise on planning and growing your business, and crisis management.

According to Harvey Mackay’s ‘Dig your well before you’re thirsty’ you should develop sources before you need them.

There are a number of organisations helping individuals in the Gulf region to grow their personal networks by providing training, consultancy, and structure business referral generation. Anyone interested can refer to The Referral Institute, BNI, Matrix Training and Right Selection among others.

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