Guru Guidance Mentor Topic: Building a Stronger Network
Networking is the cornerstone of nearly every facet of business and very important in marketing and business development. “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” There are many different opinions on the type of people you should have in your network, but I think that two of the key roles for marketing and business development are:
- Mentors – someone you can bounce ideas off of, get advice from at critical milestones, or someone to just listen
- Connectors – people who have connections to people you want to be connected with. Remember, you have to be a connector too! The Six Degrees of Separation is not just a Kevin Bacon game.
Business relationships are an investment, and like any other relationship, they must be nurtured. You will need to find an appropriate and convenient way to stay in touch with your network, whether this means going to the same events, scheduling coffee or lunch, or just catching up on the phone. These “touches” will be different dependent on both parties’ personalities, schedules, and communication preferences. There are a lot of tools that can help you stay connected, including LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, SnapChat, etc. Don’t depend on these tools as your only form of communication, regardless of your personalities, schedules, and communication preferences.
It is important to remember that this is not a one-way street; if you treat it like one, you will see that it comes to a dead end. While creating your connection with someone, offer something before asking for something. Were they talking about a client or a project that you have some information on? Help make an introduction or, if that is not appropriate, share what appropriate information you can with them. Keep conflicts of interest in mind and tread lightly. This step – helping two people connect – is really selfishly altruistic; if that connection is successful, you were the instigator, and you will build credibility with both parties.
Remember to be thankful when someone does something for you; give credit where credit is due. Find a way to note how and where you know people from.
A well balanced professional network will benefit you in both your personal and professional development.
Senior Associate, Director of Client Relations
Ayers Saint Gross