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Building a strong and viable network is something every business person understands is critical to long term success. The advent of social media platforms and other technologies provides the ability to reach out to virtually anyone to grow that network. While that access has made it easy to rapidly build a network, it has eroded authenticity and has made it difficult to grow one that is truly personal or meaningful.
In the digital age, it is more important than ever to leverage humanity to truly stand out and add value to a network. Here are three steps to ensure that the network you develop is not only powerful, but personal:
1. Pay It Forward– Are you offering people in your network information or ideas that would help them achieve their goals? No one likes an “all-take, no-give” personal relationship and your professional relationships are no different. When you share information that benefits someone in your network it goes a long way to building both authenticity and trust – two necessary ingredients to a strong network.
2. Be Genuine – When you have sought someone out in your network for assistance, be candid and up front about it. Beating around the bush can feel like a waste of time at best and disingenuous at worst. Ask for what you need politely, but directly. Then listen closely and take in all the information they are willing to give. Being bashful will only limit the growth and viability of your network.
3. Be Consistent– Touch base with those in your network on a regular basis. If you only make contact when it is for your benefit, all trust will be destroyed and people will view you as merely an opportunist. Congratulate people on a new job, comment on a blog post they’ve written, or engage them on an article they shared. Your consistent engagement will be viewed as professional, not opportunistic.
The goal of any network is to develop – and maintain – strong relationships that push each other to achievement. The ease of available information online has made it easier than ever to build a network. However, a network that is built without putting the needs of other first, without consistency, and without candor is nothing more than a house of cards that will collapse at the exact moment the network is needed.
Bill has over 15 years working in executive leadership position at leading promotional products distributorships. In addition, he launched brandivate – the first executive team outsourcing company solely focus on helping small promotional products companies responsibly grow their business. In March of 2015, Bill began a partnership with Proforma to assist their Owners growing their individual distributorships. A former speaker at the PPAI Winter Expo and current member of the board of directors for the Promotional Products Association of the Mid-South (PPAMS), Bill has extensive real-world practice coaching sales teams, creating successful marketing campaigns, developing operational policies and procedures, creating and delivering RFP responses, and successfully presenting promotional solutions to Fortune 500 clients.