Strength of a Network
Take a single twig, and yea you can break it easily. Take two or even three together, still fairly easy. Put a bundle of 30 or 50 together and it is nearly impossible to break. An old trick that is a great reminder that we are stronger when we are banded together for a common mission.
If your dreams are like mine, you want to lift yourself out of your current position into a place of greater purpose. Remaining where you are is not an option. For those who will stop at nothing to rise above their circumstance and be a success story, it’s time to get serious about your network.
You can’t do it alone! Your success hinges on the closeness of your network. This article will not only clue you into selecting a group to join but what your overall purpose and strategy should be.
Defining Your Network
Dictionary.com defines a network as “an association of individuals having a common interest, formed to provide mutual assistance, helpful information, or the like.” You’ll notice words like mutual and helpful. Cement those into your mind as you explore tapping into the power of a network.
The group may be active or inactive, poorly or supremely led, in the startup phase or quite mature. Regardless, the people present must align with your destination in life and be committed to helping all of you get there.
Beyond coming together with mutual benefit in mind, your activity level is key. Some groups are more active than others, but one thing is certain: They can spot excitement, enthusiasm and competence when they see it . . . and they’ll want to follow it. So be yourself and don’t be afraid to over impress.
Be sure that you regularly participate with the group in emails or online groups and never underestimate the power of a quick text to keep you in the forefront of people’s minds.
How to Formulate Your Network
You know some baseline components of an ideal group that would be conducive for your growth. Now it’s time to select one. Facebook and Meetup.com can be great places to find groups in your area. There are widely known networking groups like any chamber of commerce, BNI, and various trade organizations. One such exclusive group (based in Denver) is the MasterMind Chamber, they can be found at www.mastermindchamber.org.
Dedicate an hour or two to research your contacts in Facebook and LinkedIn to identify any groups you can easily join through a friend or acquaintance. If you search around and still turn up empty handed, search Meetup, Facebook, your college or university, and Google for associations/groups that focus on your specific industry/interests. If you were a member of a group in years past, reach out to the leader of the group and re-engage with a clear goal in mind.
You may be in a unique situation where there is no group that encapsulates everything you need. If that’s the case, start your own. Reach out to a half dozen like-minded individuals and gauge their interest in being your delivery team. You can either start your own enterprise from scratch or get an entity like BNI to sanction your formation. If you take the latter method, you gain access to all of their materials and training to assist you in formulating your own group.
Begin with the End in Mind
Now that you’ve selected a group that is enticing enough to join, begin with the end in mind. Don’t worry about the politics of the group, rules, schedules . . . all of that will fall into place as you immerse yourself in the group. Start with asking yourself what a successful year would look like as an active participant in this group. Maybe that is 6 additional sales per year or to double the size of your personal book of business or recruit two new employees for your own organization. Whatever it is, set yourself up for success as becoming the expert in that area.
People will routinely look to you for advice and you’ll simultaneously become more referable.
Remember that you can only be referred as much as people can coherently sell you to their contacts. Therefore, you must engage in every meeting, activity, or gathering with a goal of training your peers on how to better refer you. Keep it simple and stay consistent. It may take months and you will have to continually reinforce your value statement before people catch on and can effectively refer you.
Don’t ever lose sight of your end goal. The moment the group causes you to veer off this path, either correct it or get out. It is great to regularly meet with motivated people but if it is not mutually beneficial, run for the hills.
The power of your network is only limited by what you make it. Above all, keep your edge and passion at the forefront and you’ll start to see your vision come together by piecing together the fabric of your delivery team through a network.