Building a powerful network takes more than just calling and emailing people. It is more complex than you can ever imagine. Carolyn Rivera walks us through how we can build a powerful network efficiently and why it is important. In this episode, learn how to find and identify the right people who are linked to your goals and objectives, and know the importance of going to meetups or conferences. Discover also the kind of mindset and attitude you need to get people to listen, because networking is not just about getting the most number of people in your network. It’s about building relationships.
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Building A Powerful Network: Quality Over Quantity
We’re going to talk about building a powerful network. What is networking and why is it important? How do you build a network? These are questions that I hear all the time because people struggle with understanding fully what networking is and what are some ways to build a strong network. Some people get discouraged because building a network doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time. Many times, people give up because it takes a lot of work. Many times, I go to a conference and I see people jumping around the room handing out business cards because that’s what they think networking is all about.
What Is Networking
How many business cards can I hand out at one event? If I handout 50 cards, I just increased my network by 50 people. That’s not the case. Handing out business cards is nothing if you don’t follow it up. There are many other things that you need to do as you begin to build your network. Let’s start with what networking is. Networking is interacting with other people. It’s sharing information with people and helping people achieve their goals. When you’re handing out business cards, how are you interacting with those people? What information did you find out about them? Maybe you found out a lot of information and maybe that’s the start of your connection and that could be, but it’s not the end. At the end of that one interaction does not mean that you’re fully connected, that they’re part of your network and that they know who you are, what you do and are willing to help you in the future.
Another problem with people not understanding how to network is because they’re always thinking about what other people can do for them. They see the person standing in front of them as someone that can help them in their business and all they see sometimes are dollar signs. They can’t wait to talk to them and tell them all about themselves. We’re going to talk about what the steps are to building a powerful network. We’ll talk about what the pitfalls are so you’re not that guy that sees those dollar signs. Building a powerful network can be a game changer for you, but it doesn’t happen that quickly. It takes time and it takes focus. It’s like anything else in life. You have to learn how to do it. You’ve got to sharpen your skills to get good at it. Some people find it easy to do. Some people love doing it. Sometimes it’s part of their nature.
They like meeting new people. They like getting out there and talking to people, but some people don’t. Some people struggle with it. Because they don’t like doing those things, they stop building their network and that is a killer for anyone in the business. It’s a killer for anyone in anything that they do because, at some point throughout your life, you’re going to want to tap into a network of people, a network of people that you trust, a network of people that trust you, that have your back. You’re going to see the power in having a strong network. That power will make you want to sharpen those skills and begin to build your network.Building a network doesn't happen overnight. It takes time and a lot of work. Click To Tweet
Meetups And Conferences
We talked about what a network is. It’s building powerful relationships with other people. Step one in the process is to find places where to meet people. You have to get out of the office, get out of the house and find other people that you want in your network. That means planning for those meetups as part of your routine, especially if you’re an entrepreneur who works for yourself. If you sit in the office all day, every day and you’re not meeting new people, you’re not going to expand your network at all. You’re not getting to know others. You need to find ways to get out and go. There are plenty of opportunities. There’s a Meetup app. You can check all the meetups in your area. You can look for conferences, but you have to be focused on the type of people that you want to meet with. Let’s say you’re out and about and you found a few meetups or coffee get-togethers that work for you. What do you do when you get there?
Put Other People First
It’s all about interacting with others. How do you go about interacting with others? Start by finding out about them. Don’t start by taking over the conversation and talking about yourself. Start with them. It’s not all about you. You must begin to shift that mindset. Ask people about them. Find out what business they’re in. Find out what their goals and objectives are. Find out what their pain points are. What are some of the challenges that they’re having in this ever-changing environment? Put other people first. What you’re looking for is a connection that both of you can talk about.
As you’re finding out more things about them, you’re looking for a way to make that connection. Maybe it’s that you both went to the same school. Maybe it’s that you both live in the same community. Maybe it’s that you both are in the same industry with the same challenges, whatever it is. The goal is that you’re finding that common ground that you both have in common so that you can talk about it further. Building that connection, getting people to want to learn more about you, to want to talk about you. When people are successful at networking, they’re connecting with other people. Networking is all about those powerful connections. One of the challenges that some people have is being able to remember the specifics about people.
I know that sometimes I struggle with that especially if you’re at a conference talking to a lot of different people. It’s not always easy. You have to make some association with that person with one specific thing that you’re going to remember. It could be a sports team that they love. It could be a place that you’ve both visited. It could be a challenge that you both have, whatever it is. What I do is once I meet someone, they might hand me their card. I’ll write down a few things that I want to remember about them on their card. I’ll put it into my online card. I use CamCard. It’s good for me. It gives you an opportunity to put notes. You can take a picture of the business card. In case you lose it, you still have it. You still have that connection that you can contact in the future.
You can use your cell phone and create a note. Write the person’s name and that one thing that you want to remember about them that will remind you back to the conversation that you had. Some people don’t like networking because they feel like, “I’m not going to be able to remember the things about these people. I feel awkward.” That takes practice. It takes time to build those memory skills, those association skills. This will help you, especially in a place when you’re meeting many different people at one time. What we’ve talked about so far is the beginning of feeling comfortable with connecting with others.
You can’t spend every day connecting especially if you’re trying to build a business. There’s a happy balance. Before, I said you’ve got to get out of your office and you’ve got to start connecting. Now, I’m saying don’t go to every single meetup in your area because it’s not building your business either. You’ve got to figure out how to target your connections to those that are going to be most beneficial for both of you, where you can help someone and they can help you. It has to be mutually beneficial to both of you because of the mutually beneficial partnerships, those are the ones that last.
As you’re finding out about the other person, you’re uncovering what challenges they have and you’re finding out what their needs are. Now, it’s time for you to tell them how you can help them. To be that thought leader, someone that’s going to be able to help them through some of the pain points that they’re having. You’re looking to share the value that you can provide them. You don’t want to tell every single solitary thing about yourself. You want them to leave wanting a little more. The end game is that you’re looking for someone that after you’ve made that initial connection, that they’re going to want to talk to you more. They’re going to want to be able to continue to have a conversation at another time where you can talk more in detail about the needs that both of you have. Your message has to be focused yet a bit vague in the details. You’re not going to give them every specific detail. This is basically your elevator speech.
What we said that step one is getting out, going to meetups or conferences, finding the right ones where you’re building a network of people that are linked to your goals and objectives. You can’t spend all your time networking and not running your business. Spend the time finding the right conferences to attend and the right people to get to know. We talked about connecting with others and creating that value. That networking is a two-way street and it has to be beneficial to both of you. You help them, they help you. How do you convey that message?If you want to truly build a relationship with someone, you can't have one interaction for ten minutes. You must follow up. Click To Tweet
It’s having a clear and concise elevator speech. Have you ever started a conversation with someone and they begin to tell you their life story when all you wanted to hear was a quick introduction? They go on and on. You don’t have the ability to get away fast enough. You don’t want to be that guy. You want to have someone that can share your value with them in one minute. You want to build something that gets your point across in either 30 seconds to one-minute max. Why do we say that? Because this gives the other person the ability to determine if they want to hear more. If they do, they’re going to ask more questions.
You need to have a kick-ass value statement about what you can help them with. They must feel like you’re going to be helping them to achieve their goals. Any time you’re creating these valuable connections, they’re basically built from a win-win situation where both parties feel that they have something to gain. Creating an elevator speech is not easy. Many people get too long-winded. They focus too much on themselves. They don’t share the value that they can provide. These are the things that you need to think about as you begin to create your own.
Some people get tongue-tied and they feel like, “I can’t do this.” They give up. You don’t want to be that person either because you can do it. Spend the time and once you think you’re done with it, share it with people you trust and get their feedback. We talked about feedback. Remember, feedback is a gift. Getting insights from others will help you refine your message. I put together my own elevator speech. Here’s what I say. I work with people all over the world to them, increase their skillsets to support their growth and increase their value to their organization every single day.
I’m focused on leadership and personal development because I believe that increasing those skills will change the world around us. I give them enough information about what I do and how I can help them in their everyday life, just enough to get people to listen. If they want more information, they’re going to ask me some questions. That’s where the dialogue begins because you’re giving them the opportunity to opt-in to ask more questions, to find out a little bit more about you without doing this data dump of information about you first and hoping that they’re listening.
This way I’m attracting those people that I feel like I can provide value to by sharing enough to get them interested, but not too much to want to run away as quickly as possible. Providing a concise statement allows other people to make that choice and decision for themselves. Most of the time when you’re at networking events, people expect that you want something from them. You can stand out and not be that person. You can be different but by offering to help them instead, you can differentiate yourself. They want to follow up with you because you weren’t the person or you may be the only person in the entire room not asking for something from them. People will be pretty excited to see someone trying to help them and they’ll want to help you back in return.
The concept is give a little before you receive. Look for ways to help other people and when you do that, they’re going to want to help you in return. It’s such a great concept, yet many people don’t follow that advice. It’s not because they don’t want to help other people. Sometimes they get focused on themselves at that moment that they don’t even think about it. Maybe they see someone from an organization that they’ve been trying to connect with for a year. They get so excited. They run to them. They do this data dump of, “This is what I am. This is what I’m all about. This is how I can help you.” Think about it from the other person’s point of view. They’ve probably heard it twenty other times in the last 30 minutes. It’s the idea of helping someone first and they’re going to want to help you back mutually beneficial to both.
Understand People’s Roles In Your Network
If you make that adjustment, if you make that change, you’ll see that things will change for you. As you begin to choose the people in your network, it’s important to determine why you want them in your network, to begin with. There are many different people that are important to you and helping you to achieve the things that you’re looking to achieve. People will have all different roles within your network. There are some people who you look to for maybe encouragement, inspiration and to bounce ideas off of. Those people are different from maybe some other people who you’re looking to do business with or who have connections with other people that you want to do business with. As you think about this concept, other people will be looking to have those same types of relationships for themselves.
Which person are you going to be for them? Maybe they’re going to bounce ideas off of you. Maybe they want to do business with you. Maybe they want you to connect them to somebody else. Those things, again, it’s a two-way street and both parties have to participate in that. There are some people that call me simply for encouragement. For me to help them when they think that they can’t get through the day. There are other people who call me to connect them with someone else, someone that can help them in their business. That is the power of building your network because there are many different people that you connect with.If we only look to connect to people like us, we're limiting ourselves. Click To Tweet
Sometimes you see synergies with other people that you can help facilitate. That is powerful and why building your network is important. Let me give you an example. I went to a women’s conference. I met many different people. There was one individual that I truly connected with. We had similar goals and that we were looking to help people, but we were in totally different industries. Somehow, we wanted to stay connected and figure out how we can work together. We kept in touch. We talked to one another. We had lunch together. We found out a little bit more about each other and our businesses.
We decided that we would conduct a workshop for women, women who are looking to take control of their lives and be their own CEO regardless of where they were in their life. To be a CEO of themselves from their business life to their personal life, to their community life, whatever that means. It’s a personal growth workshop that will take place on October 2nd in Tampa. I’m excited to be partnered with Patty Durell and it all came about through networking. If you’re interested in learning more about the workshop, contact me. Go to my website at CarolynJRivera.com, send me a message and I will give you all the details for this workshop. We have six different speakers from different backgrounds. We’re focusing on giving you what you need to take that step to create your own destiny.
If I never went to that networking event, I wouldn’t have this opportunity. That is the power of networking and finding the right people to connect with, which brings me to my next point. Not everyone is a true match. You can’t spend your entire time going to every event imaginable because that’s not productive. That will not be a productive way to spend your time. There are some people that are not going to be a match for you, so don’t say yes to everyone. You may not be able to help everyone and that may be okay. They might not be able to help you either and that might be okay. It’s finding the right people. That’s important. Sometimes it’s not easy.
I remember one time, I was running after someone. I wanted to connect. He would spend some time with me. We’d talk about how we were going to work together. He would set up a call to discuss it. He’d cancel the call at the last minute. This happened three times. I had to cut my losses. It wasn’t going to happen. I stayed connected with him on LinkedIn, but that’s it. I knew at that point that we weren’t going to do business together and that’s fine. You have the ability to make that choice. Don’t waste your time when things aren’t progressing. Conversely, I met this other guy at a conference and we send emails back and forth for a while. Something told me to continue to check in and follow up. A few months later when he wasn’t so busy, he called me back and we began working together. You have to see, sometimes life gets in the way of a great connection and timing isn’t right. The connection was real. By staying in touch, I was able to create that win-win situation for both of us. That’s the beauty of networking.
I shared with you two stories. The point of the stories was to say that it’s important to follow up. If you want to truly build a relationship with someone, you can’t have one interaction for ten minutes. You must follow up, set up a time to talk and send a quick note. In both stories, I followed up using all of those tactics. If you want to build long lasting relationships, then you should try to keep in touch every quarter. Not to say it has to be an hour conversation but set up fifteen minutes, 30 minutes, send a note. If you both can’t find the time, let them know that you’re still around and interested in them. Let them know if you can help them with something. We live in the day of social media and that alone gives us another avenue to create a network. The thing to remember about social media is that just because you’re connected doesn’t mean that they are truly part of your network. You may have people that have asked to connect and you’ve never spoken to them. You know nothing about them. What’s the true value of that connection? They don’t know you. You don’t know them. They’re not going to help you. You aren’t going to help them either.
Quality Over Quantity
Sometimes people get hung up on the number of people that they’re connected to. Those aren’t true connections. Networking is all about quality relationships, so don’t focus on quantity. Focus on quality, focus on building true long-lasting relationships with those that you can help and not trying to build a network of numbers. Focus on those that are important to you, those connections that you want to continue to cultivate. They’ll provide you the most value. The last thing I wanted to talk about is choosing the right people. I talked a little bit about it before, but I wanted to get a bit deeper into this topic.
The point is we’re all attracted to people like us. If we only look to connect to people like us, we’re limiting ourselves. We’re limiting our growth. We’re putting blinders on to all the other people that are out there. The best thing about building a network is to have a diverse network of people from all different backgrounds, all different industries because you get to learn from each of them. They all come with different experiences and hearing about those things that we’re not familiar with opens our minds to other things. Don’t focus solely on building a network of clones. Specifically, go out and look for people with all different backgrounds that can share things with you and that you can share things with them. Not only will you be broadening your own background, but you’ll be helping them do the same.
The purpose of a network is to be able to help others and ask for help when needed. With that in mind, you should begin to think about creating value for others. They’re going to want to help you in return when you need it. If people know right from the first meeting, the value that you can provide them, they’re going to want to build that relationship with you right from the start. Those are the ones that last and provide true long-term value. Networking is tough. We talked about that. How do you find the right people? Where are you looking?You must look to connect with people that can fill in some of your gaps. Click To Tweet
Start with looking for those people that match your industry, match your skill set and that you can help. That’s where you start. We talked about networking is connecting and helping others. In return, they’re doing the same for you. Finding the people that you can help, those are the people that you want in your network. One of the other things that is truly exciting about networking is those connection points. Sometimes you’re the middleman for creating those connections for other people. I know that I’ve made connections in my network with one of my friends or colleagues to somebody else and they’ve done the same for me. That’s how you expand your network in the long-term.
Building a network isn’t easy. It’s not always fun. It takes time but the benefits are endless. We talked about the steps of building a network. First, you’ve got to choose the right networking events to go. You have to get out there and find the ones that are going to link back to your goals and objectives. Finding the right people at those events is critical. We talked about not only networking with people just like us. We know that’s much easier to do, but it’s going to limit your ability to learn and grow. You’ve got to look for people to connect with from all different backgrounds. They’re different from you, but there still has to be that synergy together.
You must look to connect with people that can fill in some of your gaps. That expands your capabilities. We talked about the fact that we can’t connect with everybody. It’s like in your business target marketing. This is target marketing the right people. You’re targeting those specific people that are going to be good for you and your business and that you can help the same way. Sometimes there are not going to be good synergies to work together. That’s fine. Timing may play a part in connecting. You may need to follow up a few times due to the challenges that people are having.
We talked about your ability to show people the value you provide in either 30 seconds to a minute. You must perfect your elevator speech. Why should people want to connect with you? What value will you provide them? These are the things that people will want to find out right away. Remember, you’re giving them the ability to decide whether they want more info instead of giving your life story and having them want to run away as fast as they possibly can. When you find someone that is perfect for you and your business and you can help them in return, you want to stay connected. Keep in touch, connect with them once a quarter.
Lastly, focus on the quality of your network rather than quantity. That’s where you get the most value. Don’t get sucked into, “I have to find 150,000 people to connect with or else people won’t think I’m valuable.” People will think you’re valuable based on the value that you provide them. I wanted to share one other thing because I am super excited about it. I did a TEDx called How To Turn Challenges Into Opportunities. Check out my TEDx. You can go to YouTube, type in, “Turning Challenges Into Opportunities.” You’ll be able to see my TEDx. Leave me some feedback. I love to hear what you think.
We’re going to have another great show for you. Finding the right topics for me is most important. I look for the things that my clients or audience are having the most challenges with. I talk about those types of topics. I’m always looking for more information. Go to my website, leave me a message, share feedback and share with me the topics and the things that you want to hear about. That’s how I choose my topics each time. Helping you achieve more than you ever thought possible, that’s my specialty. Remember, believe, commit, achieve. That’s the secret sauce you’re looking for.