Business networking is a tricky process to talk about. It is saturated with misconceptions from all ends, and the general understanding among the masses is that everything goes. As a result, most young entrepreneurs end up failing in today’s competitive market. Co-founder of Passivepreneurs – a firm that helps individuals from all over the world build Passive Income Streams and Financial Freedom – Michael Hoffman has a 5-rule guide for young business-minded individuals interested in curating a sustainable and successful business network.
Start building your network long before you need it
A common mistake that individuals make is that they start building a network only when they need something out of it. This is a sure way of undermining your credibility and eventually ending up with no leads. People should ideally start building their network months, even years, in advance. This allows them to base their relationship on a foundation of mutual respect and faith. Once the network has organically grown and trust has been instilled, the possibilities are endless.
Find a way to give value to the people you want to meet
While it has been established that you should build your network and stick with it a while before you need something of value, it is equally important to be the party that first offers value. This works on two levels: reciprocity and interest. When you offer someone value in the professional sphere, it is often implied that it is a transaction without overtly implying that. Similarly, there is room for interest and faith that opens when you give someone substance. The bridge of empathy is formed out of this mutual interest. It is a successful trick to always be the one who offers before requesting value.
Have faith in the power of relationships
Hoffmann uses the metaphor of muscles for relations – the more you use them, the stronger they get. In a similar vein, relationships only grow with time and communication. Instead of coming off as needy or an opportunist, try to be empathetic and respectful towards the person you are eyeing. Being a thoughtful friend before a potential partner goes a long way.
Always follow up
The biggest mistake you can make is to not follow up. You never know what door you may be closing when you do not follow up on your word. Every interaction is an opportunity that must not be wasted. It also goes to show your commitment to consistency and adds to your credibility.
Maintain your integrity
Credibility is the key to building a successful network. There are loose-lipped people who look for any opportunity to start gossip or drama. It is a prerequisite that you identify the right crowd, do not gossip or talk about other people behind their backs, or be manipulative. These are clear signs that you are not to be trusted. Instead, be transparent and original, and do not show up empty-handed. Infuse your words with substance or stay quiet. Build yourself like a brand in which others would be interested in investing their time and capital.
These 5 rules are a foolproof guide to curating a successful and long-lasting network of like-minded individuals according to Michael Hoffmann. While it is important to follow these, it is also imperative to understand that the specifics of every demographic need to be evaluated. Additionally, while it is always good advice to be more giving in the beginning, you must be careful that you do not get taken advantage of. Successful networking is as much about wit as it is about instinct.