How-to Build A Strong Network
Your Network Is Your Key Asset
How would you value your network? Are you proud of it? Are you nurturing it? Are you receiving value from your network?
What I hear often from women is “oh, I am not good at networking”, “I don’t have time for networking”, “I am not good at this social networking stuff”,….
Is this you?
I hear you – I had the exact same perception of my networking skills. This perception and the lack of courage to reach out to my network for help, lead to a very critical financial situation.
A couple of years ago, I was running my own company with one major client in Denmark. When this project came to an end, I was searching for a project in Switzerland, where I was living at that time. But no one knew me there. It took me a year of cold calls, networking events, applications, job applications,… to finally have an income again. At that point, I had suddenly 3 offers at the table, where I didn’t know which one to choose. It was a fixed job where I closed down my company in the end.
I finally had the courage to reach out to 2 C-Level people to ask for their advice. Both of them where up for a conversation within less than 24hrs! I was blown away. Me asking for advice and my network responding with pleasure within no time.
Sometimes, I still wonder, what would have been possible, if I had asked for a project or job opportunity during this year within my network. I love helping, I love connecting and when someone reaches out to me, I immediately think of to whom I could connect this person. And I find it hard to ask for support for my ideas and dreams. But when I find the courage, then I am blown away by the positive and encouraging feedback.
- YOU reading this post and maybe forwarding it to someone else, makes me feel so jubilant and hopeful I can hardly describe.
So how can you build your network?
My boss at KPMG, Thomas, gave me challenging target for my probation period: connecting to (meeting with) 20 senior people within 3 months. And he also gave me a list of recommendations, which was helpful. The core point of this exercise was: “you need to build a network within the firm fast” – “go out and do it”.
This was the first time, I had created a network with intention and within a time frame – and ever since then, this is one of my advantages.
- Reason: Why do you want to build this network – and why do you want to meet this person?
There does not need to be a mutual interest, but you need to be confident in explaining, why you want to meet this person.
- Research: Do a little bit of research on LinkedIn, within your corporate intranet,… to get to know the person and the interests. This helps you to have a couple of topics you can talk about.
- Restaurant: Thomas suggested to have business lunch with some of the partners. This didn’t work out for me. Why should a partner spend 1hrs talking to a senior manager he had not heard of before? BUT, when I invited them for a coffee – the response was very different – and very positive. A coffee can be between 15 and 30 minutes. It is less formal and everyone is up for a coffee.
Now during covid and home office, people are even more delighted to have a virtual coffee! It is an energising, stress free conversation where people can relax and breath.
Try it out! 30 minutes for a coffee or virtual coffee is risk free. People like to share their stories and the most successful people are always looking for connecting with interesting people.
How can you maintain your network and build relationships?
- By showing interest in what the person is doing (it can be a simple like or even better a short comment on social media)
- By sending positive messages as simple as “I just read this article of your company,… I am really impressed and I just wanted to wish you a great day and a wonderful week. If you are up for a virtual coffee, just drop me a line”.
I sent a short compliment to a client the other day, because she looked stunning on a video call. “NN what I forgot to tell you the other day, you looked stunning. Have a great weekend”.
Sending compliments, positive energy or just a simple nice message can make someone’s day. This is very little effort with huge results. The only thing you need to do: Schedule 15 minutes per week for 1 or 2 messages.
- Serve your network before you ask. This is building trust and building a relationship AND ask, if you need something. The worst thing, that can happen is a “No”.
If you don’t ask, you never give your network the opportunity to say YES.
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