How do you spot the next great idea for your life and business? How do you make sure you keep up with all the changes going on with your clients and markets at any one time? I suggest that building a stronger network can be one of the best solutions you use in the coming year. Over my career, the value of my network has had a direct correlation to my net worth. This doesn’t surprise you does it? People are always saying, “If I had your network, Tripp, I would be more successful, too.” I might suggest that if you invest in a better network you would be more valuable. Having a great network is one of the secrets of all my most successful clients. So, how do you build a more powerful network?
Great networks can increase the speed in which you adapt and adopt new ideas for your organization. Networking can shorten your learning curve dramatically. If done right, it can also be fun for both you and your network. If you become a better networker, you might be surprised how quickly your organization becomes more successful. As an added bonus, you find an incredible wealth of ideas and people who can help you build the organization and life of your dreams. Let’s look at some of my strategies for building a network.
The first strategy is to make sure you get out of your office on a regular basis. Take time to meet with people every week. Many business leaders get so busy doing their day to day activities, they never get out into the world. You are the best person to understand the bigger issues surrounding your business. Make time to get out and meet with clients and potential partners on a regular basis. Take a tour of their facilities, walk the floor with them to better understand what is going on in their world. You might be surprised what you learn during these visits. Some of my business ideas have come from outside, looking at industries that I was exposed to during my offsite visits.
The second strategy is to find a mastermind group of people who are not in your business that you can learn and share with on a monthly basis. This is also a great opportunity to network on a regular basis. I’ve found most successful entrepreneurs have a mastermind group of peers where they go and discuss ideas that might not be ready to be shared with their employees. Sometimes employees kill a great idea because they don’t want to change how they do their jobs. Having others in your network help you clarify your thinking can be invaluable when preparing new ideas to present to your organization when you ready.
Your peer group should include people from a number of different industries who are as committed as you are to growing their organizations. They must be givers and you must be willing to provide a supportive environment for them to share, as well. Don’t join a group just for what you can get, that’s the formula for sure disaster. Learn to provide support to each other and not to judge the other people.
Look for groups with people who have a similar value system to your own. This doesn’t mean that they are just like you, but that you will have no problem sharing different ideas in a safe and supportive environment. I’ve belonged to too many of these groups over the years and have always received significant value for my time invested. Today, I also attend some of the groups remotely. I’ve also created networking groups which I facilitate for many of my clients so they can participate in the program more fully.
While we are talking about what makes a great meeting, having an excellent facilitator can provide a 10X better return than having some who is not competent or confident facilitating the discussions.
The final strategy is what I call take people to breakfast or lunch strategy. At least two times a month put a meeting on your calendar with someone you would like to get to know belter. Get to know the nicer restaurants around where you live and make it a habit to go out with a new contact at least twice a month.
This unique opportunity can change the way you relate to others in your networks. As you do this, you begin seeing an impact on how you view your life and business. I’ve found that these offsite meets are a great way to not only help expand my network, but they allow me to really listen to what the other person is saying. In most cases, it also provides a networking relationship that provides both parties a great opportunity to expand their influence. I’m always pleasantly surprised after a good lunch at how many different ways we discover how to help each grow our businesses and other future partnerships.
Once you get comfortable you can even invite others to lunch if you think there is a good networking possibility. In a world where many people have thousands, if not tens of thousands, of LinkedIn connections, the personal touch can still open doors to the most amazing people.
Want to know more about building a powerful network? You might enjoy this recent blog at Market Leadership Journal How Entrepreneurs can Build a Powerful Referral Network
Today, we talked about getting you out of the office more in the coming year. I can already hear several of you thinking, “I can’t afford to leave my office this many times a month.” Next week, we give you several ideas on how to become a better delegator so you can. See you then.