“You need to network to increase your net worth.”’
Although this advice was given to me long ago, it took me many years to understand truly the value of networking.
THE ROAD TO ACHIEVEMENT
As we have all heard, there are many paths to success. However, it seems that there is one common thread — relationships generate opportunities. Successful individuals have honest, personal relationships with people who have guided them along the long and winding road. Perhaps it was:
1. A mentor who has helped along the way.
2. An individual from whom you have learned.
3. An industry leader to whom you’ve looked up.
4. A person who “opened a door” for you.
More than 10 years ago, when my journey into the fitness industry began, I developed a relationship with Geralyn Coopersmith, the current chief content officer of Flywheel Sports. Over the years, she has been a mentor, friend and confidante.
Coopersmith thinks that relationships are perhaps the most important part of growing and advancing in the industry. “The more people who know you and think you bring real value, the greater the chance that they will think of you when projects and opportunities arise.” She’s right.
Have you ever looked back with regret? “I wish I would have introduced myself to him” or “I really should have kept in touch with her”? Be honest and ask yourself the following questions. Are you:
1. Keeping in touch with people you want to
2. Maintaining contact with individuals you want to work with?
3. Surrounding yourself with those who encourage you?
4. Asking questions of those who know the answer?
How can you build trusting relationships without making an effort to be connected?
LEARN FROM OTHERS
Every situation can be an educational opportunity and, if you allow it, you can learn from every person you meet. Being able to learn from others will help you to be better prepared to interact with people and form trusting relationships. You may reject behaviors that you wouldn’t want to emulate or take beneficial lessons going forward.
It’s simply up to us to open our senses to the idea that you have the ability to grow with every encounter.
HOW CAN YOU INCREASE YOUR CIRCLE?
It’s obvious that networking plays a major role in our careers. So now the question is: “Well, how do I do it?”
A good rule of thumb is to try to meet at least one new person a week. Coopersmith suggests, “… reaching out to people you want to know (or want to know better) and invite them to lunch or coffee at a time and place that’s convenient for them … Be respectful of their time and more interested in what they do than what you are about and what they can do for you . . . Think about how you might be able to bring real value to them and do it with no expectation of quid pro quo. The rest will take care of itself.”
If you feel that your location limits you, do you think geography is still a good excuse? Use the web to network. Social media and emails are platforms to respond respectfully and follow through with your game plan to increase your circle.
Former President Bill Clinton has a reputation for his networking techniques. At the end of his day, he would use a 3-by-5-inch index card to keep information about each person he had met that day. On the card he would write all the relevant contact information, other important facts, including how and where they met and any additional information he had gleaned from that contact. He was genuinely interested in learning and remembering things about others and that made people like him.
WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?
Do you want to continue to grow? Are there individuals you’d like to meet? Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could actually form a relationship with people you admire? It is possible and, quite frankly, necessary. Your next golden opportunity may very well be the result of successful networking.
Theodore Roosevelt once said, “The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.”