Systemize Your Networking with a Relationship Plan
It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from John Corcoran– Enjoy!
Does the word “networking” give you an icky feeling?
If so, you’re not alone. A lot of people hear “networking” and it immediately conjures up images of bad networkers passing out business cards and trying to sell you on their product or service as soon as you’ve met them.
But really savvy business people know there’s no such thing as bad networking – only bad networkers. And if you want to succeed in business, you need to get good at developing relationships, no matter what word you use to describe that process.
Throughout my career, I’ve worked in many different industries – from politics to Hollywood to Silicon Valley – and I’ve found the one universal truth no matter what industry you work in is that if you want to succeed, you need to cultivate relationships with others.
There’s an old African proverb that I think speaks volumes about this: if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
In other words, if you really want to go the distance with your business or career, you need to bring others with you. So how do you do that?
How to Create Your Relationship Plan
If you want to build a business, you put together a business plan. If you build relationships, you need to put together a relationship plan. And it starts with putting together a list of people you want to have an ongoing conversation with over time.
Most people don’t create a list of people they want to proactively build a relationship with, so their networking ends up being random and haphazard. That’s not a good strategy for any career or business.
Here are the five basic steps for how to put together your plan:
Step 1. Put Together Your Conversations List
The first step is to brainstorm a list of the people who you see value in getting to know better.
I call this your “Conversations List” and it is simply a list of the 50+ people who you want to develop a relationship with over the next 12 months.
They are people who you admire and who you would like to know better, whose values you share and who you’d like to help out — not out of selfishness, but of a sincere desire to see them succeed.
This simple step might take you 20 minutes, but it could save you 20 years of wasted effort.
Step 2: Ditch the “Me First” Attitude and Make Some Friends
The second step is to forget about trying to get something from others and to start thinking about how you can start helping others, just like you would help a friend. Develop genuine relationships — but do it with people who can be helpful to your career or business, of course.
As Zig Ziglar famously said, “you can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”
Step 3: Follow Up Over Time
One of the biggest mistakes I see people making in business is they let relationships go stale.
They will let months or years go by without contacting people in their network. Or, worse yet, they only reach out when they need something.
Be sure to keep in touch with people in your network so your relationships remain fresh and you remain if not “top of mind” then at least not forgotten.
Step 4: Deepen Relationships
Your goal should be to continually deepen relationships with people on your Conversations List.
You can do this by continuing to provide deepening value over time. Start by sharing articles and resources with them, and move up the ladder into helping to promote the things people are doing or interviewing them when they have a new business, book, or other thing to promote.
Step 5: Increase ROI from your Relationships
We’re talking about business here, so there needs to be some financial payoff. Without a financial benefit, then we’re just talking about charity. So you have to make the transition from relationships to revenue.
I know a lot of people who are good at networking because they have a charming personality, but they are bad at making the final step — turning those relationships into something that is financially beneficial to them.
So don’t be afraid to draw the line with people in your network and let them know that you would love to work together, but you deserve compensation for your time.
Put Together Your List
Now, let’s end this with a specific step you can take to get started. Begin with creating your own Conversations List of 50+ people who you would like to get to know better. You’ll develop better relationships, and your career will go farther because of it.
Finally, what tips do you have for building relationships in business? Let us know in the comments.
John Corcoran is an attorney and former Clinton White House Writer. He has a free, 52+ page ebook you can download, How to Increase Your Income in Today by Building Relationships with Influencers, Even if you Hate Networking.