One of my favorite books on networking is from Keith Ferrazzi. It’s called Never Eat Alone and other secrets to success one relationships at a time.
It made me think more deeply about building a more powerful network by fully leveraging my present network, re-activating my past network, and yes, talking to strangers.
It’s worked for me. If this is something that you need to do as well, click through for some practical networking tips to help you get started right now.
…about networking at least. Your mother’s intention in telling you not to talk to strangers was to protect from bad people and bad things happening.
The intention of this article is to show how networking (even with strangers) can bring good people into your life and create good things for you and your business.
Why talk to strangers? Your future success will depend on more than just what you know; it will rely on who you know.
Your sphere of influence can grow exponentially as you leverage your past, present and future network. So talking to strangers is one way to grow your future network.
Why network? Networking is an essential part of business development. It is a related, but slightly different activity than sales and marketing.
Networking is one of the most viral and organic things you can do to grow your business. It takes relationship marketing and key account management strategies and puts them on steroids.
Who to networking with? This brings us to the question of who you should be or could be networking with. Part of me wants to tell you “anybody and everybody.” That’s one way to get things going, but eventually you need to get more targeted, purposeful and strategic in who you connect with.
While you’re at it, shoot for the stars!
Your network is composed of three concentric spheres: Your active, lost and future network. You could also think of it as your present, past and future network.
- Your Active Network. These are people that you are in close, regular contact with. Keep this up. Maintain and nurture these relationships in as many ways as possible. These people will be the ones most willing to connect you to others, because they know, like and trust you.
- Your Lost Network These are people you used to work with, go to school with, and live next door to. At one time, they were in your active network and you had a relationship, but you drifted apart and have lost touch.
- Your Future Network. These are the people who you desire to meet. Sometimes they will be strangers that you add to your network out of sheer luck or serendipity. But generally, you need to always be asking your active and lost network for these introductions.
Simple and effective way to build your future network.
- Ask for new connections. Discipline yourself to ask the question at every networking meeting “Who in your professional network do you think would make a good connection for me?” Then ask, “Would you be willing to give me a ‘warm introduction’ to that person?”
- Act on those warm introductions. Call and introduce yourself. Use the name of the person who suggested that you two connect. Be bold. Reach out. Make a connection. Get to know a stranger. Help them if you can, by leveraging your network, knowledge and ideas. Help to facilitate other
warm introductions. This may be the most valuable services you can provide to
your new contact.
- Follow-up and action what you have promised. You must prioritize this activity because it will reinforce and build your credibility. It also enhances the relationship and keeps the networking momentum going.
In summary: Talking to strangers and once you get to know them, adding them to your network can be very fruitful professionally and personally. It does take courage and a little verve to “put yourself out there” and “ask for what you need”, but once you get into the hang of it, it becomes natural, fun, and highly rewarding. Go on, give it try, and get connected