I realized that to be successful, you have to invest in yourself, your inner wealth first, before you can build a successful company. You have to become the viable investment everyone is looking for because the world most definitely needs your greatness, even hungers for it.
Think about it, when someone is reaching out to us, whether to do business, invest their money or their time what are they looking for?
Hope. They hope you have the best answer, the best solution, the best method, the best procedure to accomplish whatever it is they need. Your investors are hoping for the best rate of return. Your staff is hoping that you are going to provide for their security today and in the future. Your business associates and friends are hoping that you follow through on your commitments and promises. The fact is we do business with people we like, we do not do business with companies.
Networking is at the core of every successful business. However, what differentiates one individual from another in the networking process is your ability to differentiate yourself from others. And I don’t mean what makes me a better insurance rep, real estate agent, coach, consultant or physician kind of better.
I’m talking about elevating yourself to the level of Master Connector which puts you on an entirely different playing field. Having a network makes you more valuable to others. People turn to you when they need information, not because they think that you know everything, but because they know that you will know where to find the answer. This makes you a go to person. It also accomplishes the goal that yourself, and your company are first in mind of others in the community.
Bottom line, most people are resource networkers which means they network to sell themselves, to sell their companies, or to build relationships with people who possess desired resources. They basically target people who are like them.
A Connector on the other hand, is a bridge builder who helps you get what you want. We get to know you – and then introduce you to others. We’re quite social often inviting people to lunch, dinner, drinks, parties, events and other gatherings where we introduce you to new people and certainly widen your door of opportunity.
Having a Connector in your corner dramatically extends your network and gives you access to new found resources. When you need something – a job, a doctor, an introduction, or maybe even a date – a Connector points you in the right direction.
The old adage, “It’s not what you know. It’s who you know.” But more important, it’s what you know about who you know that can make the difference between being forgotten and getting referrals.
I developed a philosophy that moved me from working a room to working an entire community. I became quite intentional about my networking and very strategic on any involvement with nonprofit boards. Every Board that I served on or currently serve on has a mission focused on entrepreneurship and/or economic development which ties back directly to what my company, Sage International, Inc. is focused on too. Second, I would not waste my time and energy on events that did not support my enthusiasm for connecting with people at a deeper level. Let me give you an example:
Years ago, a friend of mine from the Bay Area was the luncheon speaker for the Sparks Chamber of Commerce so she asked if I would go and help her out. I had belonged to the Reno Chamber for many years and was open to checking out this “other” Chamber. I found a seat at a table and quickly realized that five of the people all worked for the same company and were busy talking amongst themselves about their upcoming vacations. The other two were husband and wife and after an initial greeting, I basically sat there without much conversation. Remember I said earlier, I became very intentional about my networking and so sitting through another rubber chicken lunch without any engagement was quite disappointing. I could have left it at that but I didn’t. I contacted the Executive Director of the Chamber and asked if he would meet me for lunch because I wanted to share my recent experience with him. He agreed and brought one of his board members along too. I told him that his Chamber was no different than any other and that if he wanted to help his members or give me any reason to join he had to change the way he was doing business. Well, that got his attention because he didn’t know me and I’m sure he was thinking who is this chick?
Anyway, I proceeded to teach them about effective networking and how to transform their boring lunches into something people would be excited to attend. That December, I was the featured speaker at the Chamber luncheon and I took an audience of 200 up and out of their chairs by facilitating a very powerful exercise that set a new standard and created a new culture of networking within the organization. The energy in the room was off the charts! He came up to me afterwards, hugged me and said he has never seen anything like this. It was so powerful and absolutely transformational. I chuckled, as I pointed out to him that we’re now 20 minutes after the luncheon is supposed to end and no one has left the room!
From that presentation, I was asked to join the Chamber Board of Directors and my continuing involvement opened many doors like additional speaking engagements, teaching NxLeveL® for Entrepreneurs, hosting the weekly Cheri Hill radio show, invitations to serve on other boards, and frequently being asked to attend a variety of social gatherings because of my ability to network effectively, which every host needs people like us…the Connectors who are open-minded, active listeners, like talking to strangers and are excellent at following up with people.
The essence of being a Connector is the proactive drive to make the connections – not out of a calculating intent to get something in return, but out of the joy and satisfaction of seeing the positive, exciting developments that can spring out of new associations you help form. This requires a loving, caring attitude towards others. It’s about touching the hearts of the people you know and meet, in your efforts to truly help them. There isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not connecting someone with another someone or a cool resource. And the key is having absolutely no expectation or any thought about what’s in it for me. I appreciate and am grateful that people look to me for help.
It should come as no surprise that gaining business at social functions can be a lucrative part of your marketing. With a little preparation and a definite intention of what you want to accomplish, you will stand out from the crowd and win.
Here’s a great acronym G.A.I.N. (GAIN) that outlines the critical steps necessary to increase your revenue through the contacts you make at social, civic and networking events.
– Go with a GAME plan mapped out. (Do you want to meet one new contact or three?)
– Have interesting ANSWERS prepared for the inevitable questions. (What do you do?)
– Be able to ILLUSTRATE your value with short, moving success stories. (I increased a client’s revenue by sharing this one little secret!)
– Agree on the NEXT step with each of your new contacts. (Want to meet for coffee?)
I encourage you to incorporate being a resource into your game plan. By asking one very important question of the people you meet, “What do you need next?” you bring other people’s requirements to the surface. Then help them sincerely.