The Old Boy Network
From the “Old Boy Network” came the phase,”It’s not what you know, it’s whom you know”, which is the heart of networking, this is what each person in business should aspire to having. The definition of the “Old Boy Network according to The Free Dictionary (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/old-boy+network) is:
“An informal, exclusive system of mutual assistance and friendship through which men belonging to a particular group, such as the alumni of a school, exchange favours and connections”
By establishing a network of people derived from friendship or common interest you are able to tap in to and grow your business. This network can be created online via social media or offline by attending network meetings. But at the end of the day, it’s about a relationship with another person. They have to trust you and want to be associated with you in order to add them to your network.
An entrepreneur with an effective networking system can create leads, business recommendations, opportunities to share information and learn from other business owners. If you maximise your networking efforts, you meet lots of new people, which increases the visibly of you and your brand.
There are certain principles which can and should apply to both online and offline networking, because either way you are still talking to a person. So, in order to maximise your time, receive the rewards and benefits of these relationships here are a few things you should consider:
Strategy & Goals
Networking can be time consuming and draining. Therefore you need to ensure you go to where your target market are, enjoy your time there, most importantly demonstrate your expertise by giving information as and when possible. Develop a level of trust as soon as possible.
- Where are your target market online and offline?
- How do you join them?
- What is the level of commitment you are required to give?
- What topics are of interest to them?
- Is there any information I can give them to demonstrate my expertise?
- What are you trying to achieve by attending?
- Referrals to your business? Access to other networking circles? Friendships?
Connect and stay connected
Now you have made new connections with people online and offline, the most important part of any relationship is to nurture it. Keep in touch if possible have a 121 meeting via email, telephone or private message. You can also stay connected by commenting on their posts or re posting their messages.
You may have met them initially offline at an event, so now connect with them online via one of their social media channels.
- How and where did you meet?
- When was the last time you connected with them?
- What is the best method of regular communication with this person?
As BNI say “Givers Gain – If I give you business you’ll give me business and we’ll both benefit as a result.” So now is the selfless part, you have to actively think of your network and how you can help them. Hopefully through the development of your relationships, you would have established the businesses or people individuals would like to collaborate with.
“If I give you business you’ll give me business
and we’ll both benefit as a result” – tweet this
Look within your network and connect them to other potential clients, collaborators, associates or offer recommendations. As every parent tells their child… “don’t give to receive,” eventually the favour will be returned.
- How can you be supportive?
- What or who are they looking?
- What do they want to achieve?
- Do you know anyone that could be of assistance?
- Do you know anyone that could put them in touch with a beneficial contact?
To get the most from your network always choose a coffee catch up over skype call (where possible), be yourself and a good ambassador of your brand.