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If you still haven’t, then it’s time to build your network

/ 05:01 AM May 29, 2020

One way to deal with the deva­station caused by the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is to strengthen your network, either as a way to rescue a business or find new employment

Here are some realities and tips about networking.

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1. Start with your existing network.

Always start with what you already have.

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Reality: The more helpful and authentic you have been in all the work you do (whether paid or voluntary), the more likely people will help you (or will want to reconnect with you) when you need it.

To do: If you think you don’t have enough people in your network, try to reconnect with those you have not connected with for a long time.

Tip: Try to overcome your insecurities with rejection—expect that some will not have the time to say hello or will not be interested to lend you a hand at all. Remember your goal, it is not the number of “NOs” that matter, it is the one YES that can give you the break you need.

2. Seek trust before anything else.

Relationship is two-way and needs to be nurtured.

Reality: Imagine you just met someone in a meeting and that someone tried selling you something immediately? A big turnoff right? That’s why you must avoid doing the same thing unless it’s a free-for-all marketplace. Years ago, many people tried connecting with me on LinkedIn and then sold something to me immediately. I got curious if I were missing out on a new trend so I experimented doing the same thing myself, and predictably, it was unsuccessful. So don’t sell on your initial message. Your goal is to create a relationship and to earn trust instead.

To do: Be an asset to everyone. For instance, you can send a useful article that can benefit the person you just met. This way, you become a relevant resource and it also shows that you follow through and can start or resume a relationship in the right way.

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Tip: Be a good social liste­ner and sense what issues are important to the network.

3. The power of network is to be introduced to the network of your network.

Two executives have the same number of people in their network, but their strengths can be different.

Reality: The first executive, whose network’s members do not necessarily know each other, has a superior network compared to the second, whose members know each other. In the former, you can be introduced to their other unique networks, not possible on the second because you will end up meeting the same people.

To do: Make an inventory of your network today—who can help you find a new job or be customers or even suppliers of your new business venture? If you have difficulty listing down names, time to start planning your activities in a more purposeful way. Refocus toward improving your network, not just making friends. Groups are important.

Tip: There are always connectors and super connectors—these are influencers with various network groups. You do not want to miss getting in touch with these people. At the right time, tell your connector you are restarting, and ask them who among their network may be interested or should you be connected to.

4. Strong networks do not happen overnight. Reality: There are four types of network groups you should have.

a. An Operational network gives you links to people in your current industry so you can do your job well. Among others, they can be industry associations, local chambers, suppliers, distributors and customers.

b. A Functional network can help you connect with colleagues in the same profession or even another profession.

c. A Strategic network can connect you to people who can help attain your long-term vision. Among others, they can be financiers, politicians, or experts in a field you intend to enter in the future.

d. A Personal network can help you grow on a personal le­vel. They can be community service clubs, alumni associations, networking clubs, personal interest groups, or mentors.

To do: The higher your position, or the higher your ambition, the more types of networks you should have. The more connected you are, the higher is the ease to remove barriers and to get things done, especially when push comes to shove! I know of a senior corporate executive who prequalifies his senior HR applicant by asking who the applicant knows from competing firms.

Tip: Do not discriminate among people trying to get into your network. They may be just starting now so be willing to connect with those who have shown honesty and grit—just like when you started. Be approachable. Be humble. Have an abundance mentality.

5. Be on the radar. Be present.

Are you active on social media?

Reality: If you are not on social media, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, you will hardly be able to attract people or do social listening. Registering a social media account totally different from your real name or nickname does not count. It can even be taken against you—try asking creditors and they will automatically disapprove your loan application when they see your social media profile lacking transparency in identity, so try not to mess around with your name on social media.

To do: Be positive on social media. It’s OK to be frustrated once in a while (as in once a decade), because we are all human, but try not to be negative to the extent it becomes toxic and adds to the anxiety of people.

Tip: Be known for something. Instead of outbound, you can attract inbound, so if you are an introvert like me, it’s less “scary” that people are approaching you instead of you approaching them. You can make the law of attraction work in your favor.

It is important to remember that networking should not about being opportunistic and only showing up when you need people—it should be a continuing practice to establish your capabilities, to build trust in what you can do and offer, and create win-win relationships, especially important in challenging times, such as the one we find ourselves in today. If you have built your “reputation bank account,” you should be able to leverage on the “deposits and interest accumulated,” and many businesses we see operating now are those who were able to establish the supply chain faster and better—because of a network built over the years. Start building your network now. —CONTRIBUTED

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TAGS: coronavirus disease (COVID-19), networking
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