In sales now our network is out "beating heart" to our territory and this article makes a number of great points about networks.
Getting a Network
We all have a network, I have a stack of business cards by my desk, we have people we have worked with and your friendly recruitment consultant. Some of these we may have even connected to on Linkedin.
In 2021, it's critical that we all get networks, we invest time in building a network and we get out networks as large and as varied as we can.
Note: A network and a contact are different things. A contact is just a contact, a network is where you can call up the person and ask them a question.
Why Have Our Networks Shrunk and Why Do We Need to Rebuild Our Network?
Most out our networks before the pandemic were based on face-to-face networks, the office, the school gate, the gym. With many of these areas closed or restricted we need to spend time lifting the networks up onto digital. Or put it another way, your network today is analog and in 2021 you need to turn it digital.
Network Create Trust
Your network, because you are connected to them will see your contact everyday, you are therefore, more and more able to influence this group of people. You (it's mandatory) need to be connected to your prospects, your customers, your colleagues, the people who influence your prospects and customers and the people who influence your industry.
Why, because it creates trust. If people, know you, like you and trust you, then they will buy from you.
Social capital is something you build, where people around you (your network) say that you are a great person. In the analogue world, this is easy, people at the school gate say hello, people know you down the pub, you are liked by your colleagues at work.
Social capital also means that people will turn to you for help and advice. I know the people that stepped forward and helped me after my divorce, they built social capital with me. When of my friends that did this recently went through a difficult patch herself, I stepped forward and helped her.
Social capital is also something you need to develop on social.
To quote this article
"If we go back three decades, there was research that was done by Mark Granovetter. In particular, he was looking at how people get a job. He was repeatedly surveying people and asking them, how did you get a job? How did you find out about the job that you currently have? He would say, ‘Was it a friend?’ And people kept saying again and again, ‘No, it wasn’t a friend.’ It was an acquaintance."
Talking to a friend recently who has been laid off, he has 5 job opportunities, why? because last year he invested in building a network. Just one of the benefits of investing now. Yes I know this sounds like hard work and you cannot be bothered.
Back to the article.
"If we just let our social circles go without reflecting upon them, we tend to end up talking to people who look like us and think like us. The more that we have those same conversations over and over, we all increasingly start to influence one another and think alike. So without these weaker ties, we’re essentially all sitting in echo chambers. That’s why that weak tie is so important—it’s providing new sources of information that we otherwise wouldn’t be exposed to."
Why Your Network Will Start Giving to You
Your network will start "giving" to you, it will be a source of creativity. The first 3 years we ran DLA Ignite, we didn't have a business plan as things would (and still do) just turn up. Our first reseller, many of our team members, more resellers, they would see us online and approach us. I get one piece of inbound (customers coming to us and wanting to buy) every day and so does my team. The article, puts it nicely like this.
"If we think about where creativity comes from, where innovation comes from, it almost always comes from recombination. Oftentimes we think that there’s a lone genius or someone just happens to be creative. Everything that we know from research is that innovation really comes through recombination. My favorite example of this is the printing press. The printing press radically changed our whole social world. But if you really look at it—it was profoundly disruptive, but it’s simply actually a wine press and a coin punch put together."
What You Are Going To Do Now
Is Reach out to ten people you have not spoken to in a number of years and connect to them on Linkedin. As this article states ...
"One of the best pieces of advice is to take the time to reach out to someone that you may not have spoken to in a couple of years. There’s great research that was led by Daniel Levin at Rutgers. They asked executives to list 10 people you work with every day or you would turn to for advice and 10 people that you haven’t spoken to in two or three years, but you think might have something to offer for your project. They asked them to reach out and contact these people—they were randomly assigned to either reach out to a current tie or an older tie. They found that when people actually reached out to contacts that they hadn’t seen in a couple of years, which they call dormant ties, that the information that they got from those ties was far better than their current network."
"One of the most powerful ways is to reach out to someone that was critical in your career, or a mentor, and just say, ‘Hey, I’m thinking about you. I really appreciate what you did for me.’ If you imagine being on the receiving end of that, especially now when people are really feeling disconnected and searching for purpose, that’s incredibly rewarding."
"Or just even saying, ‘Hey, I saw this article and it made me think of you,’ that’s one of the most effective things that we can do right now."
"But you’ve got to actually set aside time to do this. I encourage people who are willing to do this to write down three people that you’ll actually reach out to. I call it ‘fun Friday,’ and set aside 10 minutes on Friday just to actually do it and see how it goes."
Invest in this and you will find you life will become more enriched, you will grow your social capital, you may well tank yourself in the future if you get laid off ...... and if you think this is all very fluffy. You might even sell something.
It’s perhaps not surprising that our personal and professional networks have shrunk in size during the pandemic. But the degree of the contraction, for men especially, is alarming. The size of our extended networks has fallen by about 17% on average during the pandemic, according to new research by Marissa King, a professor of organizational behavior at the Yale School of Management. In a study conducted with Balazs Kovacs, Nicholas Caplan, and Sammy Grob, she found that men’s networks shrank by close to 30%, while women’s connections were much less affected. This week I spoke with King about what she’s seeing, where it’s causing problems, and what we can do about it. Here is a transcript of our conversation, edited lightly for clarity: