Six ways networks go right

September 10, 2010

In the Austin area, you can attend specific networking functions morning, noon, and night. You can turn any other gathering (including standing in lines at grocery stores, movie theatres, bookstores or working out at a gym) into a networking opportunity. In short, what you can do is spend a lot of time and have little to show for it.

That’s what I hear a lot. “It doesn’t work. I network and nothing happens.”

If this happens to you, go back and look at your networks and make sure they are doing what they are supposed to.

Networking is more than leads and referrals. It connects people to each other and makes what it connects more productive in unique and individual ways that go beyond sales and jobs.

It is based to two words: “Net” and “Work”. Different kinds of Nets do different things: protect, keep things in, keep unwanted things out, encourage, enhance, and catch. Work is defined by time, effort, money and activities.

It has two goals: give and take. If people only “take” it is really “prospecting” or “canvassing”. If people only give, it’s more like “mentoring” or “coaching”.

How can you make sure you’re networking with the right people? Make sure you have networks that have the six essentials. Any network activity is a waste of valuable networking “work” unless they:

  1. Are set up to consistently ADD new relevant people.
  2. Foster relationships to build mutual TRUST among members
  3. Mutually SUPPORT and PROMOTE all members
  4. COMUNICATE Network members current 
goals, needs, skills and abilities
  5. Actively promote the SHARING of information and ideas between Network members
  6. RECOGNIZE and REWARD the talents and value of individual Network members

How do your networks compare?

My suggestion. Set up a spreadsheet on these essentials. Then list each of your existing network activities along with your desired goal. Put a check mark or “X” if the Network actually does this essential as it relates to the goal you specified you wanted to accomplish from that activity.

Here is an example. It may seem a little “lame” but in Texas we talk to anyone about anything. Sometimes it can really pay off. If not, at least it passes the time. Independent research even bears me out. According to a study I once read, the best “pickup” place is a bookstore because it is safe and talking to others about yourself and what you enjoy is ok.

Network Activity Goal Add Trust Support Comm Share Reward
Talking to
people in
the book store
Find a new
author to
read; meet
someone new

Probably, unless it is one of our great local bookstores like Bookpeople, BookWoman, Half Price Books or even the public library, this is not such a great place to network for a job or a client. These four locations actively encourage communication with book signings, discussion groups, etc. Even so, just don’t expect to do a lot of networking unless you attend an event, join a group or talk to people like the archivists at the Austin History Center (which is a wonderful resource library by the way).

By really looking at how you spread your net and how you work, you make sure your goal matches your network. And it almost guarantees your networking will go right.

What are your most productive networks? Send me a list of your favorites and how they represent the six essentials. Did I leave any special traits out that you value?

Thanks in advance and here’s to your networking success!

Topics: Social Media, Featured, Blog Posts

Jan Triplett

Business Success Center

Jan Triplett, Ph.D. is the CEO of the Business Success Center (BSC), a City of Austin certified green business, that provides sales and financial growth strategies, planning, and implementation. She is also a professor in Business and Professional Skills for the online MBA program at Mary Baldwin University. Triplett is a national and international speaker, author of A Networker’s Guide to Success and co-author of Thinking Big, Staying Small and Easy to be Green. She published The Networker ” magazine for over ten years and moderated KUT radio’s nationally syndicated program, “The Next 200 Years”. She was co-creator of the award-winning “City Management Academy” and the “Owners MBA” and co-founded the Entrepreneurs’ Association Hatchery incubator and accelerator. She is a small business activist. She served as a White House Conference on Small Business and Congressional Summit delegate, served on the Mayor’s Task Force on International Infrastructure, initiated the Northcross IBIZ District and recommended portions of Austin’s Big Box Ordinance. She was a founder of the Women’s Chamber of Commerce of Texas and the Greater Austin International Coalition. The SBA honored her as Texas’ Small Business Advocate. She has also earned her CBTAC and Director credentials. Her company received a Small Business Administration (SBA) five-star national award and the Austin Business Journal named it a top 20 management consulting firm.
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