When we meet somebody, we generally want that ‘sale’ or ‘favor’ right away or lose interest and ‘move on’. Yes, we understand that sales targets need to be met. We are an instant gratification society – we want the benefits now (with little or no effort) or we tend to move on.
Networking is like weight-loss; everybody wants a quick connection to the decision-makers without commitment or systematic and consistent effort. What results are frustrated networkers and besieged decision-makers.
Sales reluctance coach Connie Kadansky pointed out a truism – we tend to sell like we buy and buy like we sell. Think about that for a moment. If you want to ‘buy’ instant gratification, chances are you sell that way too. If everybody you meet or everybody in your network did that to you, wouldn’t you ‘move on’ too? If you are fed up with traditional business networking, I found a better way.
How do you network with the people you want to meet, not meet the people who come to networking meetings - without gimmicks? I recently interviewed Jay Allen, founder of CXO.org, one of the largest networks of executives in the western U.S (click here to listen to the entire podcast). He built a personal network of over 5,000 executives across the US using a ‘different’ networking method to great success. At one point, he was named, ‘The Master Networker’ and, perhaps, the best networked person in the state of Colorado by Colorado Company Magazine. He rejected traditional networking circles to pursue a more efficient way of accessing influential leaders. His methods, developed and honed over 15 years, delivered a success rate greater than 90% for accessing and developing relationships with influential leaders. You too can have similar success. Jay has built some of the largest groups of CXOs, HR executives, executive assistants (smart move) and currently manages seven groups of influential business people.
A smart aleck knows everything,
a social butterfly knows everybody while
a shrewd person is known to everybody that needs to know the person.
Jay found out something interesting from the senior executives he met - they were having difficulty meeting the people they wanted to network with because they were very busy and relatively isolated. In other words, these senior executives could use a 'networking agent' to help them network.The people who were constantly reaching out to them were the ones who were always in sell mode. These executives had perfected 'high walls' to protect themselves against the sales people. But, if you played 'networking agent' you had a different relationship with them.
‘Common sense’ and 'obvious' are neither common nor obvious to most people. Many people do not do what is common sense or obviously necessary for success. That is a choice they make, not knowledge they lack. Well, here’s the knowledge on successful networking – the method Jay uses to network successfully. There are three parts to his process - targeting and building the network, managing the network and leveraging the network. Those are obvious to most networkers. Jay pointed out that networking success comes from doing ALL THREE well; and the ‘secrets’ are the nuanced ways of doing each of them. Most people fail to succeed at networking because they don’t do all three steps (do one or two and expect results) or don’t learn the nuanced ways of doing them (comes from experience). Let’s look at the three steps.
Many people simply do not spend much time thinking about the network they want. They focus on the ‘here and now’ and attend numerous networking events. Jay calls this the ‘Theory of Random Collisions’ approach. You go to an event because you ‘might meet somebody useful’ and keep meeting people ‘because ‘you never know’ or ‘because they might come in handy someday’. Does that sound logical to you? Jay’s method focuses on who he wants to meet rather than who is available to meet him – obvious and common sense. His ability to reach the people he wants to meet is over 90%. I am usually cynical about such claims (engineer by training) but found that he’s been doing this successfully for over 15 years.
Secondly, Jay’s method focuses heavily on nurturing the relationships he starts. He has a thing called the ‘Law of Two Favors’ (which is also the title of a book he is working on) - he gives twice BEFORE he asks or takes, and he ‘walks his talk’. He uses ‘the law of two favors’ as a way to build relationships with people he seeks to network with. Even though he may have a reason to network with an individual, he will not even mention that until he does two favors – gives twice before you even broach the topic of what you may need. His perspective is that it is a way to think and act when initiating relationships - a way to reinforce humility, service and unselfishness in your efforts to build relationships. This is obviously a good thing to do and common sense as well.
Thirdly, I know many people (including myself) who know a lot of influential people but are unsure about how to leverage those relationships. Obviously, traditional thinking is that you don’t ‘abuse’ relationships or they will be destroyed. Jay has figured out a way to leverage relationships that don’t destroy them – one in which his network of people benefit and so does Jay. Obviously, the way he does it sounds simple but the nuances make the difference between success and failure.
I also realized that most people (including myself) do not understand the networks we currently have. Have you ever mapped your network (say, LinkedIn network) and figured out who the influential (well-connected) people within your own network are? Obviously, if you know who they are and nurture those relationships more, you will achieve better networking outcomes. We revel in the size of our networks but don’t personalize the communications (we’re too busy and overwhelmed by the size of our networks) with key people. There are ways to personalize the communications beyond mentioning shared friends or events that will engage people. These are some of the nuances that can be handled with new technologies.
Jay is on a mission to educate the world about the better way to network. He has agreed to conduct two one-day workshops (click here for details) on his method – one in Denver, Colorado (click here for details) and another in New York City (click here for details) – during which he will get into the nuances of each of the three phases of his very successful networking method. We will also have experts help you map your network and identify the influential people you already have in your network. You know they exist but if you can neither make a good list nor nurture them, they are ‘useless’. Traditional network – done wrongly by most people – has a bad reputation but building, nurturing and leveraging people is essential for business success (see list of business success factors – Social Skills here). As one of Jay’s clients said, "I created lifelong friendships and closed many sales from applying Jay's methodology. It is satisfying to help people while also making a good living."
When I first reached out to Jay a couple of years ago, it was because he already had a personal brand. He had methodically defined and communicated his uniqueness to the world – personal branding. Today, opportunities come to Jay because of his personal brand and his unique networking methodology. If you are interested in building your personal brand, you may be interested in an article I wrote about the need for each of us to build our personal brand.
Most people read articles like this one and continue on with their lives - TAKE NO ACTION. A lot of people know a lot but few take action and therefore never achieve their potential. I have also found that most people would rather not get help (they need) than let anybody find out they need help – keeping up appearances is more important. If you have a growth mindset and want to accomplish much in life, learn from the experts and take action. How will you network differently or personally brand yourself starting today?