Can we all agree to retire the term “networking?” I’ve heard people talk about how they need to carve out three hours a week to network – or somebody who just left a big company and has to re-learn that a whole other world of people exists outside of it. If you aren’t careful, the weak ties in your network will begin to atrophy without some intentional planning. Here are four ways to reframe your relationship-building habits and start building your network before you need it:
1. Focus on promoting others.
Stop worrying about your personal brand and share what’s great about others as you build your community of relationships. We live in an age of conversational narcissism. If you can get over the need to talk about yourself, a whole new world will open up to you.
2. Study people.
Be intellectually curious. Every person has a unique gift or strength. Figure out what makes this person tick and ask questions that activate their gift. There is nothing better than seeing someone fully realize his or her unique superpower.
3. Occupy the cement.
Everyone wants to be a brick, but oftentimes the cement is the most powerful space to occupy. Be thoughtful, connect the dots and add value by connecting diverse dots in your network. Be the social glue. It always comes back in spades.
4. Get in the chair.
Go outside your normal professional and social group and grab coffee with someone in a completely different field. Enter the conversation as a humble novice. Ask for advice. Learn what they do and how it works. Inspiration will often strike when we least expect it. Most importantly, find ways to stay connected to that person and add value at every interaction along the way – expecting nothing in return.
When you start to apply these four principles, you will begin to notice a flywheel effect on your network of relationships. The richness, depth and breadth will continue to grow and expand. People are created with a need to connect – so get started today.
President & CEO