Why Would I Care about a Network?
Have you ever heard the term your network equals your net worth? I used to think that was a load of crap and never really understood what it meant. I was twenty-three years old in my first sales role and the only thing I knew was if I made a hundred plus calls every day I would get on the board and be on track to making six figures.
Growing up on food stamps and occasionally living in a motel because we couldn't pay the rent never resulted in a high-quality network. Never going to college and barely making it through high school didn't put me in a place to know very many successful people. Some might start off in their career already having a coveted network based on how they grew up but that was not the case for me. Frankly, no one ever told me how important it was to have connections and have a network that never stops giving. Below are some steps to start investing in a network if you haven't already started.
Building a Network from Scratch
The easiest way to start building a network from scratch is on LinkedIn. The problem is that most people focus on more connections, followers, likes, and comments. They miss the most valuable part of using the platform which is connecting with other people. When I first starting using Linkedin I did what everyone else did, I connected with people then tried to sell them. I lurked around rarely commenting and never put out any original content. The best thing you can do is to be intentional about who you send connection requests to and find a way to add value. If you want to get more advances you can invest in strengthen your profile using Sales Navigator and putting out content. Ay or all of those things will increase your success on the platformm.
What Does it Really mean to Add Value to your network?
First, let's start with what not to do. Adding value does not mean sending them an e-book, whitepaper, or blog post from your marketing team. Forget about trying to qualify them, set a meeting, or booking a demo. After they accept your connection request I recommend sending a video that is around thirty seconds offering to connect for a quick chat and mentioning how you might be able to add value. Make sure you tell them your "No sales pitch Guarantee". This typically blows people away and it's important to honor what you have promised. I have found that around thirty percent of the time especially if you nail your targeting they will ask you to pitch anyway. This is either because they are curious or when they checked out your profile and website something resonated with them.
How to Structure the Conversation
The key is to focus on them and listen more than you speak. Get to know more about their story, the work they do, and what their current priorities are. The one thing I have found to work extremely well is to ask a series of questions to get a good understanding of what types of relationships they are looking for. This builds rapport and shows you really care. It also indicates you are a good listener, which is actually much rarer among salespeople than you would think. It's an easy way to stand out compared to what others are doing on the platform. Many people try to fake that they care, pretend to add value and ask directly who they want to connect with and never even make any connections for them. People will see right through that and you will be just like everyone else.
Continue to Stay Top of Mind
You are not going to hit it off with everyone and that's okay. For the ones that you do make sure you take good notes from what you learned in the conversation. Make good on any action items like sending them a resource or connecting them with someone right away. The sooner the better and it's easy to forget if you don't do it right away. Make sure you check in regularly, make connections when possible, engage with their content or stage them on posts that you feel they can set their thoughts on. If you are creating content like a podcast, video series, or anything else this would be a great opportunity to offer to collaborate with them on something.
Plant the seeds and keep consistent
Building a network takes time and a lot of effort. I would not recommend putting all your eggs in this basket or you are likely to go broke or lose your job. Find a comfortable amount of time you can spend each week on activities that are focused on building new relationships and investing in. the ones you have developed.