Networking is a wonderful dance performed by three actors. The networking actors or stakeholders play roles that create a symbiotic balance. Each player needs the other to make the process work.
Just as a firefighter is drawn to help put out fires, complimentary stakeholders are compelled into action when a problem arises in their network. Awareness of each role helps networkers be effective.
The Three Stakeholders
- Problem - The most important of the three stakeholders is the person with the problem. The other two actors take their cue from this person. Knowing what challenges and opportunities lie in front of the people important to us allows us to value and enhance relationships where appropriate. By asking good questions and using empathic listening when talking to your associates, clients, and friends; you will hear problems and opportunities from every part of life; home, family, work, community, etc... Your passion and ability to help other people solve their problems through your connections is the fastest way to accelerate your sphere of influence. Good questions to ask your clients, friends, and associates:
- Besides what we just met about is there anything else that you are looking to solve?
- What is will change when you are able to solve that challenge?
- Is this something that you are looking for outside assistance to solve?
- Solution - This resource is drawn from your bullpen to help solve specific problems for people who are important to you. You meet these people every day; at events, on planes, through friends, etc... The challenge that you have is to find out where your contacts specialize. Good questions to ask resources to qualify their expertise include:
- What do you do?
- Who do you do it for?
- What differentiates you from your competition?
- How did you get into this line of work?
- What does an ideal client look like?
- Why do you clients love you?
- What are not good clients or opportunities for you?
- Introducer - Some people call this role the center of influence. Similar to the kid’s game memory, the role of the introducer is to make matches. Good introducers match demand with supply not the reverse. When you introduce a “Solution” it is still incumbent on the person with the problem to qualify that this is the right resource for them. Your single objective is to refer the best resource that you know for the problem as you understand it. To do this it is important to first assure that the person who you are trying help, the person with the problem, wants outside help. The surest way to failure in networking is to send a solution where there is no problem or even worse a problem not looking for a solution. These are called false alarms. Be careful not to “cry wolf” as you will reduce your credibility in the community with each occurrence.
By playing each role well, you will foster goodwill throughout your networking community and beyond. Remember, depending on the time of day, you could be playing any of these three roles.