If you needed referrals for a new job, who would you ask?
If you needed to raise $500 for your church's Transformation Campaign to provide outreach to an inner-city community, who would you ask?
If you needed to raise $3,000 for an 18-month old who's diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis (CF), who would you ask?
These are questions I've had to answer myself, but let's jump into the last... In May 2012, a friend recommended me to be an honoree of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation's "Memphis Finest". I was initially surprised and excited, but suddenly became apprehensive when asked to raise $3,000 for the worthy cause - finding a cure for CF. I had a little less than a month and a full schedule [two very valid excuses I could have used to back out], but began to brainstorm names of family, friends, colleagues, and associates to ask for help!
I exceeded my goal, but only by having a "network"!
Often we talk about the importance of communication, but what really happens during and after the conversation? Less attention is given to the art of networking; however, it can be very powerful!
5 Tips to Build a Network:
1) Have a reciprocative mentality. Your primary focus should not be to get all you can from someone else, but to create a "bidirectional relationship" where you interchange opportunities! If you're only able to ASK and can never OFFER, that's a "unidirectional relationship" that may weaken over time.
2) Listen to digest. Have you ever talked to someone that doesn't listen, bogards the conversation every time you stop to take a breath, and never responds to your comments... so that they can move forward with their agenda? Yeah. Don't be that person!
3) Dissect other's interests. Not all of us are etymologists, so chances are great that we will "talk around" what we really want or need. This means you will have to analyze what you hear, process what you think the root really is, translate that back to the other person, then WAIT for them to confirm or clarify! (Restart that cycle if they clarify, versus confirm.)
4) Make mental connections. Perform a mental scan of people, places, or things that can possibly assist the other person. JACKPOT BABY!!! Congratulations, you officially have what it takes to become a valuable player in the "network". <<I know you're excited, but calm down and keep reading.>>
5) Engage and re-engage. This is where your cash in... unleash the beast. Share the connections you think will assist the other person! Sometimes this happens during the first conversation on the topic, but it could be years between the two events. And that's okay. This step solidifies you are willing and able to have that "bidirectional relationship" referenced in step 1.
So now you're probably thinking what on earth does this have to do with little Sarah and CF - everything!
Because I've always tried to have a genuine interest in people and consciously worked at creating and maintaining "bidirectional relationships", I exceeded the $3,000 goal within 3 weeks. To help quantify this for you... I received one donation that was more than $100... and it was $500... which means I had to make a lot more connections with people in my "network".
The "network" isn't about buying people to be on YOUR team, but it embraces the interchange of opportunities among players WITHIN the "network".
Have you joined a network lately? I'd love to hear your tips!
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