Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Best Way to Build a Network of Advocates

Those who know me know I’m an avid networker. I love to mingle with other business people. I enjoy the intellectual stimulation. The sharing of ideas by the amazing people I get to meet starts my mind racing. Best of all is hearing others’ success stories. Networking has played a huge part in my own success. Here’s why…

Networking is about everyone BUT ‘me.’ You read that right. The best way to build a network of advocates is to become one ourselves before we expect anyone to reciprocate.

The Rule of 2

To help me remember this truth, I developed a simple rule for myself a number of years ago. I call it “The Rule of 2.” This means every time we find ourselves in a networking situation, we look for two people we can benefit within the next two or three days. Sometimes this means we can send a good client referral their way. Other times there may be a strategic alliance opportunity we can help connect. And sometimes it’s just a matter of taking a little time to drop into a person’s place of business and/or study their website so we can become of value in sending the right people and resources their way. Easy, right? It’s just a matter of making it part of our calendars following an event.

I had to smile as I sat down to write this today, because in my email was an annual thanks-for-being-my-best-friend message from a guy I don’t even remember meeting. I got a similar message last year as well and talked about it then (if not on my blog, at least to some of my audiences). He starts out by saying I’m receiving his email because we do business together and he wants to ‘personally’ thank me. I’ve never done business with this guy. Then he goes on to say his fiscal year is ending in a couple of weeks and tells me exactly how I can benefit him by sending him the right kind of prospect who is hot and ready to sign on.

The interesting part to me is that last year I took quite a bit of time (two hours or so, as I recall) in a carefully crafted reply aimed at helping this lost soul understand the shortcoming in his approach. I do believe I got an email back that said, “Thanks for your reply,” but that’s about it. Apparently what I had to say didn’t help him much. I haven’t heard one word from this person in a year, and now I’m stuck with the decision of whether I ask to be taken off his list, or continue to watch with morbid curiosity.

The bottom line is this: If our approach to networking and staying in touch with those we meet through our networking activities takes the angle of, “Here’s what you can do for me…,” we’re missing the boat. Intent listening, meaningful follow-up, and an eye toward what we can do for others will always trump the slickest pitch or the greatest deal we might be able to offer others. It’s all part of the abundance mentality.

If you operate in a state of abundance, looking at how you can benefit others first, you may be a good fit for The Abundance Group, an organization that facilitates small, local, live gatherings of business people who know (or are open to learning) the right way to build a network of advocates. In keeping with the theme of this group, membership is complimentary. If you’re not a member, take a look at by clicking here. If you are a member already, thank you for being part of this new team of service-oriented decision-makers and leaders. We’re excited to take this highly effective networking tool to the world.

Best wishes in all your endeavors to build your network of advocates by serving the needs of others first.

Here’s to your networking success!

Bryan Waldon Pope

1 comment:

  1. Just a funny update...

    It must have been the right day to write this blog. I met a guy at a networking event about 10 days ago who sent me (and everyone else from the event) an email. It essentially said, "Good to meet you! Here's how you can buy my stuff."

    Let's help these people. Are you with me? :)