One of the most important factors to success is having a broad network. People in that network can open doors that are normally shut and put you in the path of opportunity. These are both vital elements of success.
Your network can be made up of almost anyone you’ve ever met. Of course not everyone is part of your active network, but each person can be welcome at some point. In turn, each person has the potential of leading you to other contacts who may then become part of your network. The relations within are bi-directional. In other words, one hand washes the other. Don’t hesitate to offer support as well as ask for it.
But how do you grow this network? Here are some tips which may help make this task easier.
Be where they are
Focus you efforts on the areas that are going to bring the most benefit. Find where likeminded people are hanging out to share ideas and meet each other. Your network needs to be full of these people with whom you share one purpose, one goal, and the same amount of determination and perseverance. When you surround yourself with people who share similar purpose, you feed off each other’s enthusiasm and positivity – which inspires you to work harder towards your common goal.
This might be a bit of a cliché – but if there’s an area you’re passionate about – you simply must get out there and attend the big conferences. You’ll connect with not only likeminded people but also the heroes in the industry you look up to – another source of inspiration and bright ideas.
Be the embodiment of your brand
Identifying yourself as a representative of a brand, product or service and communicating your intentions both in words and helpful actions is what is called, “being real, being useful”. Those good deeds create trust and relationships. They create word of mouth and a certain gravity of popularity for your brand with your own identity as the proxy. Fans, friends and followers “happen” because the word gets out that your brand promise is meaningful and being followed through on. Be as reliable a person as you claim your brand to be.
Help others out
The core principle behind understanding the needs of your customers entails finding ways to meet their needs. Do it in ways that are helpful while at the same time leading to product sales. Approaching a social network blatantly announcing that you’re a marketer and that “you will be marketing therefore they must buy products” isn’t being helpful – it’s being annoying. Instead, try finding out what their problem or need is, then offer to help. When you are the answer to someone’s prayer, you endear yourself to him/her. This is human nature. And this is also the reason why they feel indebted to you.
Coming from a networking event, you will obviously take a business card home. When you have a reasonably quiet week (or strive to make some time for it), look up their website. If they have an interesting-looking blog or newsletter, then subscribe to it. If the website is not very interactive, and/or if you really want to stay in touch, look them up on LinkedIn and Facebook, then request to add them as a contact.