I have been described as a "seasoned" networker - that probably means an old guy who networks a lot! - But it took me a while to identify that that there is a pyramid, or hierarchy of depth or quality in all of our potential relationships. Let me describe it to you ...
At the base of the pyramid are what we call 'suspects'. These are people who seem open to an approach to offer support.
It is usually better to find out more about suspects before approaching them in person. Many are often misidentified and only randomly picked. Only some suspects (when researched more closely) get to the next stage of becoming 'prospects'.
Prospects are individuals who research confirms meet the effective network criteria, and can usually be approached in person. Once again, initial conversation may reveal that not all prospects have been correctly identified. However, the numbers of people at this level are fewer and you can be much more patient in letting time provide an answer.
Contacts are prospects to whom you have offered support and advice and whose assistance or guidance you have requested on one or more occasions. At this stage, you may have discovered only minor opportunities to call, talk or contact one another, but the potential to do more has been established.
Advocates are contacts that are openly promoting or advocating the benefits of networking (with you in particular) to other prospects and contacts. Although this may not mean frequent contact, it is likely to be more frequent than with general contacts in your network.
Partners are the best and most effective networkers that you know, and the ones you most often call to chat to, to ask advice, or suggest ideas or options. By this stage, the relationship has generally reached a much higher level of mutual trust and understanding.
Using The Pyramid To Look For Opportunities:
To begin to discover who might be your network suspects at the base of the pyramid, an excellent place to start is to reach for opportunities much more widely.
This means becoming broadly alert to the many opportunities to network that may present themselves every single day. Many of these opportunities will be posted in newspapers, magazines, on notice boards, in advertisements, on the Internet and many other sources.
An increased alertness will count for little unless you have a well thought through perspective on what you are looking for. There is no point in networking for the sake of networking. To an extent, this will depend upon your overall personal networking aims and objectives.
Possible networking goals:
• To increase market share/customers
• To find new ideas
• To learn and develop yourself
• To find a job/work/career
• To find a new colleagues/friends
• To pursue a hobby or interest
• To gain new perspective on topics of interest to you
• To go into business for yourself
Different Kinds Of Network:
Every one of these networking goals is a worthy aim in itself, but it is usually the case that only one or two goals of this type will apply at any one time. Consequently, your networking research efforts will be invested quite differently if your goals are broadly around work or career options rather than if they are about starting up your own business.
Hence, although a few people will have very wide and diverse interests and a broad array of interesting contacts, our networking pyramids are built according to our specific goals and interest areas. This is often why we talk about a jobs network, a small business network, an education network and so on.
Networking is not a new phenomenon but with the plethora of sites now specializing in bringing people together, it is certainly something business people should do well.
Personally, I enjoy networking very much - because I am interested in people!
News: I don't usually post on Saturdays or Sundays, but exceptionally, this week I am going to post both days: Tomorrow, a light-hearted look at the increase in terrorist alerts around the globe - thanks to John Cleese. Here is a snippet ..
"The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent terrorist threats and have raised their security level from "Miffed" to "Peeved". Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to "Irritated" or even "A Bit Cross". The English have not been "A Bit Cross" since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies all but ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorized from "Tiresome" to a "Bloody Nuisance". The last time the British issued a "Bloody Nuisance" warning level was during the great fire of 1666."