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How to Nurture Your Network

How to Nurture Your Network

Networks are living entities.  They change and evolve over time, with members setting the stage for what direction a network will take.  Networks with proactive, contributing members thrive on the time and energy they receive.  They grow and bloom, yielding a harvest of good business.  Networks with members whose mantra is “what’s in it for me” tend to whither, or produce some peculiar results.

The single most important thing your network needs is for members to switch conventional thinking upside down: ask not what your network can give you, but what you can give your network.

Relax—giving is about small things.  Make a point to welcome new members.  Participate in meetings.  Be willing to share solutions and ideas.  Approach members with a mindset of trying to find ways to help, not take.  If everyone gives, every can receive.  If everyone takes without giving, it doesn’t take long for the well to run dry.

Every other member wants the same thing you do—business leads.  You don’t want to set the scene for a disaster by making inappropriate referrals, so take the time to really understand what each member does and what type of referral is best.  If you’re serious about this, take notes.  This shows the member you’re sincere about wanting to help, and you’ll be thankful a few hours later when all the members you talked to start to blur in your memory.  Keep track of each member’s profile through a network book or other system so you have the information ready to go when a possible referral comes up.  People usually reciprocate, so the more referrals you give, the better your chances of getting referrals.

Make an effort to show other members they’re appreciated.  A simple thank you note after a one-on-one meeting can go a long way, and so can taking the time to share an article or other information with a member who might find it interesting.  Anything you can do to set yourself apart from others (in a positive way!) is going to make other members want to give to you.

Networking is a bit like a treasure hunt.  Your direct contacts may not be an abundant source of business, but the people they know could be.  The more network members you have, the more hidden gems are within your reach.  By introducing quality candidates as potential new network members, you keep the network vibrant and create new possibilities for all members.

Note the use of the word quality when discussing adding new members.  People want professionalism.  They want prompt and excellent service, and they want value for their money.  They don’t want to be stuck paying for shoddy work because they got a bad referral from you or another network member.  Be choosy about who you invite into your network.

Quality refers to you, too.  Be knowledgeable, confident, and deliver what you say you will.  Good word of mouth comes from good service; do your part to be someone network members can trust with referrals.

Networking results are based on a simple formula: what you get depends on what you give.  Demonstrate to your network that there’s a lot more to you than chasing referrals, and you’ll reap the rewards of being a valued network member.


Donna Willon

President Focused Networking Ltd.

I help You Generate More Business Through Networking Relationships, LinkedIn Training and Business Coaching