Building Your Network
“The quickest way to the top is to take everyone with you.”
—Bernhard Dohrmann, Ceo & Chairman of Space International
If you want to succeed, build a great team. A great team multiplies your prospects for success; it enables you to form relationships with powerful people who can make your dreams come true. A great network supports your strengths, fills in your weaknesses and allows you to trade and build on your teammates’ accomplishments. When you have a great team, people assume that you are great and will stand in line to get to know you, do business with you and help you. They will also be delighted to pay your price.
Okay, so you understand the value of a strong network. Now, how do you build a great network, how do you get started?
Well, unless you’ve been living in total seclusion, you already have a network in place. And your network is probably more extensive than you realize. It may not be a great network yet, but it’s a beginning, a place from which to build. Your network most likely consists of your family, friends, schoolmates and business associates. It includes people with whom you’ve conducted business, socialized or otherwise interacted. In addition, the members of your network members’ networks are also members of your network. Therefore, if your accountant is a member of your network, so are all the members of your accountant’s network.
When Johnny Carson was preparing to leave the Tonight Show, the candidates to succeed him boiled down to Jay Leno and David Letterman. At the time, Leno was regularly going on the road to perform his comedy act in cities throughout the country. Letterman, on the other hand, remained in the New York City area and concentrated on his show.
According to industry sources, in every city where Leno performed, he called the local NBC affiliate stations and said, “Hi, this is Jay Leno. I’m in town this week. If you would like for me to pop by your studio for an interview or to entertain your staff for a few minutes, just plug me in.” He also befriended station executives and invited them to his concerts.
Just before it was time for NBC to decide on the permanent Tonight Show host, Leno called his friends at the affiliates and asked them to put in a good word for him with NBC. In turn, the affiliates contacted the network “Go with my friend Jay Leno!” Insiders tell us that the power of Jay Leno’s “network networking” helped him get one of the most coveted and high-profile jobs in television.
To build great networks, you need great people: great lawyers, doctors, dentists, accounts, insurance agents, friends, etc. If a disaster arose in the middle of the night, who would you call? Can you count on him/her? Would he/she solve your problem? If a disaster arose in the middle of the night, who would call you? How could you help? Could they count on you?
If you want to build a great network, you must continually expand and upgrade your existing network. Everything always changes and what constitutes a great network today, could be less than great tomorrow. Network members drop out and lose interest: they change businesses, interests and their lives and so will you. In networking, expanding and upgrading is a never-ending process: heads of states, CEOs, established leaders at every strata of society are constantly seeking to find the best people and incorporate them in their networks, add them to their teams. So the process of expanding and upgrading never stops; it’s what building a network is about.
To expand and upgrade your network requires focus. Once you realize that you have a network, it’s time sharpen your focus and begin to see with new eyes. Continually look for new and better network members and search for links that tie your network members with virtually everyone you meet and everything you experience. Search for opportunities for your network members and help them reach their goals.