1. Become a Networlder. A Networlder, unlike a networker, has 10 or fewer key people they consider partners. These partners are participants in regular exchanges of emotional support, information, knowledge, promotional support, as well as leads and referrals for new business or career opportunities. The focus of Networlding is on mutually beneficial exchanges with like-minded and like-valued people. The great thing about Networlding partnerships is that they are fun and get results three to five times as fast as traditional networking relationships.
2. Create a Primary Circle. We all have networks. We just don’t necessarily realize it, and we spend most of our time with a few people. Networlding is about becoming aware of our network and consciously creating exchanges with a few people who become our Networlding partners in a primary circle. Social science research states that we can’t communicate regularly with more than 15 people. Therefore, we have found Primary circles are no larger than 10 people.
3. Initially, you only need one Networlding partner in your Primary Circle. In an extensive study we did with 200 executives, we discovered that the majority of people connect with only five Networlding partners once a month, every month. This means that even one person with whom you share similar or complementary values and who is ready, willing and able to become a Networlding partner, can create a whole new world of opportunities for you and you for them.
4. Find Networlding Influencers for your Primary Circle. These influencers are people who know how to influence and are ready, willing and able to do so for you and others with whom they Networld. For example, you might know people who are in your industry who are highly influential but are not Networlding influencers because they keep their power to themselves.
5. Put others in Secondary and Tertiary Circles. Again, whether you consciously do this or not, some people will fall into your secondary or tertiary circles. People who might go in a secondary circle are those who are not, right now, ready, willing or able to exchange with you once a month. These are people, however, with whom you should stay in contact with and connect every three months. Tertiary circles are for almost everyone else, because you never know who might become a good partner later and vice versa. This is especially true for LinkedIn,because as you build your first connections on LinkedIn, you will develop secondary and tertiary networks.
6. Become an influencer. You can be someone who is not at the top of your field, but because you are willing to practice influencing—connecting people together who have not yet met but who should meet—and you can quickly become a top influencer, creating many opportunities for yourself.
7. Spend 80 percent of your relationship building time with your Primary Circle. We know this is counter intuitive but once you have found those 10 or fewer great Networlding partners, spend the majority of your time focused on your partners and your “collective” gain. This will make all the difference in achieving better business opportunities, faster. I call it the Power-of-Ten. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a large secondary or even tertiary networks as evidenced on LinkedIn, but there can never be very many that form a close knit alliance and co-create with you. When I changed my way of growing my network I met Jocelyn, my co-author for Networlding. She was just taking the role of Chief Marketing Officer of Motorola. Because I offered her the opportunity to co-author Networlding with me, we formed a great partnership that resulted in a huge contract working with Motorola but also, through Jocelyn’s network, I was introduced to Larry Mohl who went on to become a chief learning officer at a couple of companies including American Express. Now Larry has become my most recent co-author on our parable similar to “The One Minute Manager” called “Networking is Dead.”
Treat each person you meet with uncompromising respect. Seth Godin, today, sent out a powerful email on conflict. He shared the insight that the way to address conflict is to respect those you are in disagreement with and by doing this, change the dynamic of the conversation to be more of a learning experience rather than a fight to see who is more right than the other party in the argument. If you respect others you will find the partners who are best suited for your Primary Circle. In the author world these people can be found through people you know but also through sites like LinkedIn and TED and Amazon where thought leaders are coming out with new and intriguing books daily
8. Be proactive rather than reactive. Proactive could look like you promoting someone you admire. I took this approach with both Seth Godin and ended up on his Domino Street Team. Now I have taken this approach with Chris Brogan. I took the time to join his great new program called “Mastering the Digital Channel” and getting coached by him and now, working to book him for speaking engagements. Proactive turns into third-party endorsement which really works in a world looking for constant great content from thought leaders.
9. Stay in touch with your connections. Wouldn’t it be easier to stay in touch with 10 people than thousands? Look, I have more than 50,000 people who follow me and I can’t keep in touch with them. But I can stay in touch with 10 people at a time and do all I can to make their lives better, and, in return, I benefit. Why? Read the next tip.
10. It’s all about “The Great Exchange.” When you find, engage, and promote the best people you currently know who are ready, willing and able to offer you something in return (e.g. you promote them and they provide you with a dollar return or coaching or something), you now can create a strong return on your investment of time. The other choice would be to keep doing what your doing, confusing activity with accomplishment with a low return on your time.
What other suggestions do you have? Please feel free to share.