Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Value of Becoming a Hub

The most valuable role in networking is that of the hub. You have probably met several hubs or maybe you are one yourself. Hubs are at the center of their community and as such seem to know everybody and how they relate. Hubs are very curious by nature and they invest time getting to know people. Hubs are trustworthy and never compromise relationships or confidential information. Hubs extend themselves time and time again to help people solve problems by connecting them with just in time knowledge and relationships.
In a similar way to how transportation, telecommunications and information technology are networked by a hub and spoke architecture, individuals as hubs connect their community.

When you have invested your time to become a hub you have mission critical knowledge and relationships when you need them. You are in the know and can make better decisions because of your access to information. You can get to where you intend quicker and easier because of the connections you have.

More important, you can become more valuable to your clients and colleagues by being their best source of knowledge and relationships. Utilizing your network to serve those who are important to you is truly what being a hub is all about. Think of your family doctor, your general practitioner. They listen, they test, they diagnose and when appropriate they get you to the right specialist.

You will be a recognized leader in your community when you become a hub. People will want your opinion. They will want your assistance. They will refer their colleagues to you. You will be able to help people in a way that you never have a trusted advisor.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

How is Networking Like a High School Dance?

Do you remember going to high school dances? At the beginning, the girls were on one side of the room and the boys were on the other. Each side observing the other and no one looking totally comfortable. Inevitably one courageous soul walks across the room and invites someone to dance and the dominoes begin to fall. The dance floor fills slowly, but not everyone participates. Some cling to their friends on the sidelines while attempting to look cool. The result is a scrum of activity in the middle of the floor and a variety of observers around the perimeter.

Effective networking is about getting in the scrum, meeting new people and making connections. If you need to warm up, stay in the perimeter for a few minutes and connect to some folks who aren’t yet ready to go to the center. As soon as you are ready though move to the center. Like in high school, the people in the center are the leaders. They interact more and as a consequence get to know each other more intimately. Like in high school, your connection to the community will be driven by the quality and quantity of intimate relationships that you maintain. Let's dance!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Expand Your Comfort Zone

As you enter the room of networkers, you make a choice. Do you opt to go straight to your co-workers, friends, and business associates where you spend the event talking to people that you know? Or do you go the opposite direction and engage people that you don’t know?

Since the primary networking purpose of attending events is to figure out who you should meet with one-on-one, then getting out of your comfort zone and connecting with people that you don’t know makes the most sense.

While this seems very logical, it is rarely the path of most would be networkers. At the next event you attend look around and you will observe big clumps of people who already know each other. You’ll most likely see herds of people from the same company. They cling to each other because they have determined no personal objective or direction and the herd represents safety.

Spending an event talking to people that you know wastes an enormous amount of potential energy. These are people that you have access to. They’ll take your call. You know what type of resource they are and how you would connect them given the opportunity. You have attended an event, invested significant time, and gained no leverage.

When you leave the herd you will make new connections that will surprise and delight you. As you do this more and more you will find yourself taking the middle seat on airplanes and sitting at tables of all new acquaintances at events. Each new person that you get to know expands your base of knowledge and relationships...your sphere of influence.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Where Do You Sit?

The floor layout at each event is somewhat different. Are you going to be sitting at tables or theater style? Where are my friends sitting? Is there an aisle seat so that my legs will be comfortable? Maybe I should take a seat in back, just in case I want to leave early. I should grab a seat quickly, so I can sit where there is a good view. My company has a table at the event, maybe I should sit there. NOT...

If your purpose is to network, the rule is simple...SIT NEXT TO PEOPLE YOU DON’T KNOW.

If you came to the event with people you know or you know some of the participants, separate from can connect with them later. Networking is first about expanding your sphere of influence...the number of people you know. Company tables are great, but those seats should be occupied by your customers and the big wigs who are entertaining them.

One simple strategy is to not sit until the seating is somewhat full and then choose a seat in the middle of a densely populated area. Ideally you have someone you don’t know to your right, left, in front of you, and behind you.

Once you’re seated, introduce yourself around, find out who you’re sitting next to, and exchange cards. Learn as much as you can about the people that you are sitting with.

The purpose of attending events is to identify people who you should meet with one-on-one. The more people that you sit next to the greater the possibility.