Albert Einstein once said: “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing it’s stupid.” Henry Ford once said: “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”
When it comes to business networking, many feel like a fish trying to climb a tree. No matter how many times they try, the results remain the same. At the same time, though, various kinds of teams surround us and offer resources that can help us make connections.
We all have teams. There’s family, co-workers and the groups and associations to which we belong. Each team has its own unique needs from us and provides us with different resources. When it comes to business networking, the resources are in contacts, knowledge and innovations.
Family: Does everyone in your family know what you do for a living? Even if you think the answer is yes, give your family a little quiz to find out exactly what they know. You’ll be amazed at what your family doesn’t know and how many people they could be sending your way with just a little encouragement on your part. Your family usually has a different set of contacts then you have and it’s important to teach them what a good referral is, how to find one for you and especially what to say to that person once they start talking about you. In essence, if your family isn’t sending you clients, it’s because of a lack of education. That education doesn’t have to involve anything more than finding ways to introduce your business into the conversation and using innovative ways to connect their personal lives to helping your professional life. They care about you and all they need is knowledge about how to help.
Co-workers: We often talk to co-workers about business, strategize about how to bring in new business and confer with them about current client needs. Have you considered tapping into your network of co-workers to help others? When you know a colleague, friend or family member has a need, do you talk with co-workers about those needs? Innovative companies formalize the process of finding ways to help their customers and connections. They work beyond the bounds of typical staff meetings to address the needs of others as an integrated part of doing business. The benefit to the company is simple: they’re remembered for going above and beyond. In difficult times, these are the companies that retain loyal customers.
Groups and associations: Groups and associations have a single purpose. Whether that purpose is to help build each others’ businesses or improve the community in which everyone lives, the purpose is shared by all the members in the group. Groups and associations aren’t necessarily places in which to “sell your wares,” but rather places to deepen relationships. Understanding the needs of others begins with understanding who they are. Working side-by-side with those in your community will give you opportunities that otherwise would be invisible.
Building your team starts at home and branches into your community. When you truly understand your team, you’ll find that business networking no longer feels like you’re a fish trying to learn how to climb a tree, but rather a fish that finally understands its strength comes from each individual drop of water that surrounds it.