They say that your network determines your net worth but where do you start? Well in this article today, I’m going to give you the steps that you need to take to build better connections and most importantly… build your network.
I don’t want to waste your time with this so I’m going to ditch the lengthy introduction and dive straight into the the first piece of advice. This single piece of advice will single handedly help you connect with more influencers and will help with building relationships.
1. You’re Approaching It Wrong
If you’re trying to build your network, if you’re trying to build relationships or build new connections, 9 times out of 10 you’re approaching it wrong.
What I mean by that is because you’re typically too concerned about what’s in it for you than what’s in it for them.
Instead of thinking ‘what can I gain from this person being in your network’ you need to completely flip the approach and think to yourself ‘what can I offer them?’ What value can I give to them? Because they’re not worried about what they can offer you, all they’re truly worried about is what you can provide to them.
As humans we’re typically more selfish than people think. We’re too consumed in our own heads, our own mistakes, successes and future that we’ll think about ourselves before others.
Therefore the first thing that you need to think about is your approach. Think about how much value you could offer them, can you provide them something they’re lacking, can you actually just show up and show that you’re willing to make an effort.
A good example of this is I recently flew to Kiev in Ukraine to spend a few days with Antonio Centeno from Real Men Real Style. I didn’t go for any other reason but to meet him and to expand our existing relationship (which consisted of a few emails and Skype calls over the years). It cost me money, my flight was terrible and it was a few days away from my family.
With this being said Antonio is someone I can learn a lot from, he’s someone in a similar field to me and as I’ve mentioned someone I’ve connected with in the past. He’s just surpassed 1 million subscribers on YouTube and I currently sit at 5,000 subscribers.
To him (as an outside perspective) I’m a little fish. So how did I manage to spend a few days with him in Kiev (when he charges 4 figures and above for his time) alongside recording two videos together for his YouTube channel.
To begin with I’ve provided value to him in the past and I didn’t rush the connection. I didn’t email him out of the blue one day and ask for a favour, I emailed casually, we spoke a few times after and the relationship was gradually built over a few years. We’re also in a similar industry, meaning we’ve had things to talk about. But more importantly (and this is something Antonio said to me) I showed up. I flew all the way from London to Kiev to meet him. Just the effort alone merited his time.
Learn from that…
Do something that proves to them you’re in this relationship for them, you are trying to make this connection for their benefit and not for you.
2. Know Who You’re Talking To
The second piece of advice is know who you’re talking to. What I mean by that is do your research. If you’re trying to approach someone new, if you’re trying to add someone into your network do a little bit of research.
Find something out about them. See if you can find some common ground so you can build that rapport.
With social media, with the internet, with the amount of services that you have available to you today it makes doing your research a lot easier. An example of this is let’s say you’re going to an event, do your research before. Find out who’s attending that event, find out who’s speaking at that event and then decide who you want to approach, who you want to talk to, and most importantly who you want to add to your network.
Once you know who they are, do a little bit of research to find some common ground, find some things that you have in common, find some things that they like and some things that you can talk about. Then think about what value you can offer to them.
3. Be Patient
The third thing is be patient. If you start a new relationship or if you start a new connection be patient with that relationship.
You can’t get what you want straight away.
An example of that is let’s say you meet a girl. You’re not going to have two kids and you’re not going to be married within the next few days. Not only is it impossible but it will make her run a mile. You want to be patient with any new connection that you try to establish.
It’s all about creating long-lasting connections rather than having someone offer you something very quickly. If you’re trying to build a connection with someone nothing is more off putting than an instant offer. Don’t go straight in and ask for what you want.
Try and build a longer lasting relationship that’s going to benefit you for years to come and most importantly benefit them for years to come.
4. Listen More & Ask Questions
The fourth piece of advice is simply to listen more. I cannot stress how important this is. If you’re at an event or let’s say that you’re meeting someone for coffee, LISTEN.
You’ve managed to get someone out for a coffee, someone who you want to add to your network, don’t just stand there and talk about yourself for the whole meeting. No one is that interested in you. Listen more.
The more that you can listen, the better of an impression you’re going to make. Even if you’re connecting to them via email or through social media still do more listening because you are born with two ears and one mouth for a reason. That is simply because you need to listen more.
Use listening as a tool to establish better relationships.
When you listen more you can ask more questions and when you ask more questions, you can gain a deeper insight into that person. If you find out a little bit more about them, you can find some common ground and you can really start to establish a better relationship with that person due to that common ground.
If you are asking questions you’re finding out more about them, you’re trying to get them on an emotional level and then you can find areas where you can relate. When you speak on an emotional level you build rapport.
If you go into a meet up and you just talk about yourself, how great you are, and talk about everything that you want from this person, they’re not going to remember you. They’re not going to want to meet up with you again. Start listening more because most importantly, you cannot learn anything whilst you’re talking.
5. Communicate On A Deeper Level
The fifth piece of advice is communicate on a deeper level. Asking people how the weather is, asking people how they feel today, asking people what they’re wearing are just boring dialogues. You want to connect on a deeper, more emotional level.
Recently, I did a speak at StyleCon in Atlanta and I stood on stage and I became extremely vulnerable. I spoke about depression, I spoke about losing my dad to suicide, and I was an open book. Once I finished that speech people came up to me and they were an open book too. We communicated on a much deeper level.
Whereas on the other hand, if I stood on stage and I was a completely closed book, I didn’t really give much away, I wasn’t really talking about my story, I wasn’t really talking about me on emotional level, do you think people would’ve approached me and been completely open and be completely vulnerable? No way.
You need to start connecting on a much deeper level. Start to talk about things that they want to talk about, what they’re interested in, what their passions are because that is going to create better communication and most importantly, a better, everlasting relationship.
6. Be A Connector
The sixth piece of advice is be a connector. You always, always want to try and connect people to others. If you’re talking to someone and when you’re trying to add them to your network you have to accept you might not be able to offer them everything you want too. But the good news is other people in your network and other relationships you’ve already established may be able to.
Connect people. If you know someone who runs a successful podcast and you’re speaking to someone who wants some exposure, connect the two together. Now you personally may not be able to offer everything to that person, you may not be able to give them as much value as you want to give them, but your existing network, your existing connections can.
Don’t be afraid to connect people with others because that’s going to hold you in high regard by that person.
If you’re talking with a potential connection and they complain about their website being unprofessional connect them with the best and most reliable web designer you know. Get that web designer to offer a discount (because of you) and follow up to make sure everything went smoothly. Something as simple as this will make you memorable by the person you’re trying to connect with, they’ll feel like they owe you a favour and you didn’t even fulfil any of the work.
Be a connector.
7. Create Deeper Relationships
Then last but not least, create deeper relationships.
There’s a rule that I want you to stick by… 51% to 49%.
You always want to be putting in 51% of effort, offering 51% of value into any relationship, any connection that you build. If there’s someone in your network make sure that you’re going out of your way to offer more value to that person than they are offering to you.
If those scales start to imbalance and you are offering less value to them, do all that you can to give more value back.
You always want to be following up with these new relationships. If you are speaking to someone in your network and then all of a sudden they’ve given you something that you want them to (for example a contact, a business partnership or a sale) and you completely stop following up with that person, you may never know what opportunities could arise from that connection.
Always create deeper relationships with any person that you connect with and most importantly… follow up.
Good relationships exist long term, you never know what opportunities may arise from years of adding value to a relationship.
Remember to always offer 51% value to any relationship.
Go Out and Network
There we have it, they say you’re the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with so do all you can to surround yourself with the right people.
Recently I’ve been scheduling every Friday as my day of ‘connecting’. Friday is the day where I connect with my existing relationships, reach out to new ones, buy people coffee and spend time connecting people.
Building new relationships and expanding your network is not only a good business lesson it’s a fundamental skill every man needs to acquire.
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