I would like to turn Mr. Lombardi's quote around:
“The network’s commitment to individual effort – that is what makes an individual successful.”
After leaving a career at a Fortune 100 corporation to manage my own consulting business, I relied solely on networking to start up. I firmly believed that, as a consultant, people would help you if they liked you! And the only way to get people to like you – is to meet people.
However, if you want more out of networking than just a nice chat over coffee, you better be prepared to sell your ‘product’ – you! This is what I did:
- Prepared my elevator speech – a 30 second delivery about what you do
- Wrote a detailed resume. Having a detailed resume forces you to go through the process of writing down your accomplishments. This resume is not to be given to anyone unless it has been edited down to suit the reader.
- Met with people I knew for coffee, breakfast, lunch or after-work beers. The price of self-marketing. Objective of meeting was to get referral contacts (I tried to get at least 3 names for the price of a lunch).
- Met with people I did not know, but who had been referred to me by mutual friends. This was the opportunity to deliver the elevator speech and follow up with the adjusted resume.
- Built relationships; developed an addiction for Starbucks; and had fun
- Got my first project work – within 4 months of leaving the mother-ship
Furthermore, there are great networking tools for the serious professional networker. LinkedIn and Open BC are the best professional networking tools that I found on the web. Also, find professional organizations in your area. Join-up and/or attend their events.
And yes, once the networking pays off and you get that first project - you must deliver! Deliver on your promise to your network and yourself. Do you have any good networking lessons to share?
"To get a foot in the door, people must like you; to stay in the house, you must deliver value."
SMALL BUSINESS VIEW
Networking is probably why you are successfully running a small business. This is one area where big business can learn from small business. This is what makes small business nimble, attuned to the market, and able to manage through change better.