People tell me ‘Paul you’re an Executive Coach… why did you write a book on Networking?’ What’s the link between Coaching and Networking?
In the book I talk about a lot of things but let’s spend a few minutes to look at areas where I can make the connection.
First the definition of Networking.
I’ve used a simple, easy-to-remember definition for Networking:
‘Building connections effectively”.
This definition implies business contacts and personal contacts and it also implies that you are effective. Effectiveness in networking means you are increasing the number of your contacts and you give back by reciprocating and sending names forward to your colleagues.
When I am coaching professional managers or Entrepreneurs ‘change’ is what these people seek and a willingness to get better at say, their leadership style. Because we interact all day with people Networking enables you to improve your inter-personal skills, which may be exactly what you want to improve in your leadership style.
I remind people that as a Coach many of my clients are technically competent – they don’t need me to help them understand finance, law or Social Media but where they do need me is to help them become a better communicator, a better team member and a better leader. I also tell people that as you rise in your career, often what gets you into trouble is not your knowledge but your behavior. Maybe you’ve forgotten the importance of being cordial with clients or staff? Maybe you’ve reduced the time required to properly communicate with people? Maybe you start thinking that as a ‘Boss’ now, you no longer need to do the things that got you into a leadership position in the first place? Wrong! Hence, a reminder of ‘Building connections effectively” is very relevant to Coaching.
Let’s review a few more areas of the book to make the connection between the change that you seek with a Coach and the benefits of Networking.
In the ‘Networking strategy’ chapter I talk about ‘Clarifying your Networking goals’ in other words, is Networking a short term push for you or a long term endeavor?
To be successful in networking, you need a plan, to set goals with a destination in mind. Once you have that figured out, it’s easier to keep track of your progress as you move forward. Essentially, repeated short terms are a long term plan and that’s why I suggest that you aim for a long term view of networking to make the short terms far more effective. You won’t be hitting and running, only to disappear and hit and run again. Networking is not something you can initiate in the first three weeks of January and then stop–it has to be a consistent, sustainable activity or your network soon gets on to you and drifts away. The goal must always be to continuously seek out additional relationships and establish rapport.
This applies to Coaching since any significant change requires time and a plan.
Later in this same section I highlight the importance of simply ‘Asking for people to help you’. Networking is basically asking someone for an insight, help, a suggestion or ultimately a contact. In order to get to that point however, ‘you gotta ask!
Don’t get up hung up on how it may look or be perceived when you ask for a contact name. Don’t give it a thought. Anybody who looks down on you for asking for help, advice or a contact name doesn’t deserve to be in your network in the first place, just taking it for what it is—their shortsightedness and move on!
The reason you network is because it gets you connected and helps identify and recognize who can help you now, in a week, a month, a year or way down the line. That might not cross your mind when you make a new contact, but you may find they can help in more ways than you expect.
Keep an open mind when networking and realize that although you’ll not always get what you want, you’re becoming a catalyst to your network. Over time, your peers and new contacts will recognize that you give without asking when it comes to networking and you’re becoming the go-to guy/girl in the process. That’s powerful.
In my “Getting into action” chapter I emphasize the importance of ‘Calling your past client or contacts’.
Everybody sees the need to network for new clients or contacts from scratch. But existing clients and contacts are a gold-mine, especially as we recognize in marketing that it’s both cheaper more profitable to hold onto an existing client than find a new one.
So make a list of your recent clients or contacts, get on the phone (not email) and set up a coffee meeting, or preferably a lunch date.
Ask over a quiet lunch how things are going with the work or services you’re offering. Make sure it’s all going smoothly and, if not, make sure they know you’re in immediately to help. Lunch needn’t be fancy; it’s the face-to-face that counts, so make sure it’s a quiet, relaxed atmosphere.
In some cases, if they don’t pick up the phone, I do the following: I’ll send a text message: Hi, I was calling to say hello and to see how everything’s going? Give me a call when it’s convenient. I never ask for new business or referrals when we talk or meet face-to-face. The idea is to make sure they know they’re on the top of your mind, as they say in marketing.
Proactively calling your past and present clients or contacts is always in your favor. After coaching 18 entrepreneurs connected with the world’s largest Search engine, some of them were shocked when I coached and suggested to them to call past clients or contacts and ask these clients for referrals. The result? ‘OMG the client told me that he would refer me another client…just like magic’. I said not really; you did a good job serving their needs and they felt comfortable referring you to another client because of your excellent product or service.
It’s amazing what can happen when you treat people well and you have the courage to ask!
These are basic examples of combining the willingness to reach out to people and your focus on treating people right. It pays off.
People want to connect and work with leaders. A Leader must be genuine however.
Marshall Goldsmith, of the Top ten most-influential Business Thinkers in the World tells us: Leadership is a process – not a state. Leaders can never “get there”.
Leaders are always “getting there”.
In other words if you think you are a Leader…think again. Besides if you need to spend your time telling people you are a Leader…then you’re not.
Leaders recognize that everything in the world we want to do or get done, we must do with and through people. If you understand and agree with this principle then you’ll be well on your way to applying one of the most important fundamentals of Networking. We can’t do it all and we can’t know it all so why not network and meet someone that does?
If you seek to improve your Leadership skills, recognize that Networking is one of the most important business skills to develop.
Coaching and Networking…Are they connected? What do you think?
‘A Networking Book’ www.anetworkingbook.com is available on Amazon, Kindle, iBooks, Barnes & Noble Nook and soon at Carturesti. If you network with me and decide to buy the book, I can ship it directly to you through TNT Express, my courier partner. Write me at: firstname.lastname@example.org to get your copy!