“It’s not about the know-how, it’s about the know-who and the who knows you”, “The network always wins”, “Your network determines your net worth.” There are many statements and quotes that highlight the importance of building and maintaining a strong network. The thing about a network is that it can’t be bought, it’s something you have to build and it takes time to pull together.
Building a personal network requires effort and most importantly the right mindset. There is no such thing as a born networker in my humble opinion. People who have solid networks and connections are almost always people who have the right mentality, business acumen, and culture.
To help you get started, I identified five common traits of people with strong networks. These five points should help you in building and nurturing your own network.
1. Pay it forward
The pay it forward mentality is THE foundation of business culture in Silicon Valley. In a nutshell, “paying it forward” means that you always try to look for ways to help others. Instead of trying to understand what a person can do for you, you think of what you can do for a person. Do you have a certain expertise you could share? Do you have someone in your network who could help? Is your feedback valuable? The pay it forward mindset proves that you want to help and support others.
2. Ask for advice
Another indicator of strong networking skills is the ability to ask others for feedback and advice. It basically shows that you really value someone’s opinion and that you see every occasion as a potential learning opportunity. Asking for someone’s advice also puts forward that you want to get better and that you take progress and development to heart. Just make sure to act when taking someone’s advice. Not acting on accepted advice gives the impression of not taking someone’s words seriously.
3. Stay in touch
Building your network and nurturing your network are two completely different things. Your connection with others gets stronger by staying in touch and keeping your network up to date on what’s happening at your end. The better people know you and what you’re up to, the more likely that you’re top of mind when someone in your network gets informed on something interesting. For example: If you’re a startup seeking capital, sending investors updates on major progress is a very strong lever to build trust. When the moment comes to raise funds, the likelihood of an investor to chip in will increase significantly.
4. Follow the right people
You need to be aware of the latest and greatest in your domain. It shows your eagerness and hunger for information. Each industry has a couple of thought leaders who basically determine the direction. Not knowing what is going on will give people the impression that you’re not focused on learning. And as described above, your ability and willingness to learn are important denominators for strong skills. A good way to stay up to date is following Twitter lists. We created a list with Promeets experts. Feel free to follow.
5. Be visible
This one might sound very natural, but a lot of people tend to forget the importance of actually meeting people IRL. Regularly attending meetups and conferences within your field will make your face known. Other people within the industry are more likely to get in touch since they feel as if they’ve seen you around (which is true 😀). Being visible also relates to your personal branding. Make sure to be knowledgeable on what’s trending, think about bringing professional business cards and try to be helpful to others.