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Networking: Creating Real Networks

Get to know your network.

We’ve mention in some posts how networking is extremely important. Networking, single-handedly can:

  • Land that new job.
  • Help a friend find a new job.
  • Meet your future spouse.
  • Make that last-minute deal.
  • Sustain your business through hard times.
  • Create strategic partnerships.
  • Start new business ventures.
  • and, Change peoples’ lives

Networking can do many more things than what we’ve listed above, but the list should demonstrate how important networking truly is.

With that said, we are more efficient at networking than we’ve ever been. On a daily basis, it isn’t unheard of to make 10 or 20 business contacts, but this comes at a price.

Speed Networking & Its Impact

With Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter few can argue that we don’t have speed networking down to a science, but that speed comes with a price: quality.

Because of our speed networking, we tend to forge weak, if not second-long, relationships that basically amount to an incremented number in a database somewhere.

Few of our networked relationships go beyond clicking a “Follow”, “Friend”, or “Connect” button. What does it actually do for us other than fluff a nearly meaningless number on our profile?

Networking has huge benefits, but can we call what we do “networking?” That’s no more genuine than microwaving a TV Dinner and calling it gourmet.

It’s easy to click “follow”, the hard part is what you do after.”
Wealth Artisan, During Conversation with Evan of My Journey To Millions

Forging a Real Network

Without a doubt, one of the hardest things to accomplish online is forging a real relationship. Many people want to maintain anonymity, and others are just plain terrified of the horror stories that we always hear. How can you forge a real network online?

Ask Questions

Each day, pick a new person in your network and ask them if you could learn a bit about them. Explain that you’re trying to get to know people in your network and you’d like to get to know them better. Few people would feel uncomfortable with this, assuming you ask relatively benign questions. Tip: avoid talking religion or politics as that can turn bad quickly.

If you think this will backfire, then I went through a trial to break the ice and prove that it works. I was straightforward with Evan from My Journey to Millions. I simply asked in a tweet “@MJTM Hey, I’m trying to get to know people in my network a bit better. Is it cool if I ask you some questions to get to know you better?”

After that, a tweet conversation ensued in which I found out the following.

Things I Learned about Evan:

  • Evan had been blogging for about 3 years.
  • He is married.
  • His wife also blogs.
  • He has a great sense of humor.
  • He is honest.
  • He can come up with deep quotes: “The goal of financial freedom is what keeps me going the knowledge that there is more to learn and more to earn”
  • He loves his family a ton.
  • He has a small dog that thinks it is big.
  • and, he taps his network when he needs help with things like coding.

I’ve learned a lot of cool things just by devoting a little time to asking questions and getting to know him. The above items can provide huge amounts of additional questions that I could ask, but I’m not trying to give him the 3rd degree when I’m sure he has better things to do.

Skype Meetings

If you know a few more open people in your network then you can arrange a Skype meeting. It is best to find out a person’s comfort level before proposing this idea, but some people are more comfortable with the idea if many other people will be on it as well. I don’t personally use Skype, but I would never diminish its importance. Some things to consider when arranging this:

  • Come up with some ice breakers
    • Name game
    • Funny questions
    • Dumb mistakes
    • or a quick history of each person
  • Have a time limit
    • If it runs over, then great, but nothing is worse than a bunch of people on a conference call floundering around because they don’t know when it will end.
  • Have an agenda
    • Don’t be a tyrant, but an agenda will give some order and content. If people deviate, then have fun. This is how you’ll learn about each other.

Build a Real Network

The internet is notoriously impersonal, and some of that is for good reason. Just because people want to remain anonymous, it doesn’t mean that you still can’t know each other, or work with each other. You just need to understand what information is off-limits. Some people will be more open than others, and that is fine.

But at the end of the day, you should know more about the people in your network than just their screen name. How often do we see a tweet or a wall post and say “I haven’t seen that name before!” What’s the point of your network if it isn’t a network? Get to know some people today and let us know if you regret it.

Image: jscreationzs / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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