Maximizing Your Network: Steps to Improve Your Business Relationships
Guest Author: Rob Thomas
“What are you selling me today?”
That question, posed by a professional contact and dear friend, literally stopped me in my tracks. How do you answer THAT?!?!
Following the track of “traditional sales” was leading to transactions, not relationships. I had to flip my thinking and my story. I started this program both out of necessity and an effort to capitalize on and leverage of my existing network…but in the process decided that it needed to be completely unselfish in nature. I focused how I could help others understand the steps in building strong networks.
By need, osmosis, thought, and trial and error, I developed the RobThomasMethod (RTM), an easy, logical, systematic, and actionable process for efficient, successful networking. My book “Who Do You Need to Meet?” outlines how to uncover and cultivate the right relationships.
Join me for a virtual lunch-time series of webinars “Maximizing Your Network” on September 10, 17, 24, where I will offer tips and insights you can implement right away. The actual system is broken into four parts, but third and fourth steps will be combined in this brief series.
Here are some of the questions and topics we will be discussing in the webinars. While the series is sequential, participants are invited to join any session they would like.
RTM 101 = Identify your network
By using LinkedIn as a guide, who is in your network that you already know? Now most people have their LinkedIn profiles bloated with contacts that they don’t really know. That time is gone. Recruiters sometimes will tell you to bolster your LinkedIn profile because it’s a numbers game. The problem with that theory is that you’re now a “mile wide and an inch deep” and really don’t KNOW any of your contacts.
So how do we do it? We rate them. People always say to me, “But I don’t like “’keeping score.’” Guess what…everybody is keeping score. This is just a system to determine whether or not they should stay in your business network. I have a rating scale of 1-4 that we’ll go through. From that, we rate them and determine who we need to talk to first about business.
RTM 201 = Maximize your network
So we now have our list from LinkedIn, we’ve rated them…now what? Well, if we’ve determined who we think is on our “good list” – we need to go test it now. How? Traditional office meetings are on hold, (thanks 2020), but we can meet in a diner or restaurant. If we can’t do it live, then virtually will have to do. Either way, we need to now do some research on them BEFORE THE MEETING to find out some details and get ready to ASK THEM ABOUT THEM FIRST. Long gone are the days of “showing up and throwing up” sales pitches. This is networking and relationship building.
Where do we do this research? What questions do we ask them? What’s the ultimate goal in the middle or at the end of the meeting? I will answer these questions, and how to use the information to determine whether or not our contact gets “promoted or demoted” in our rating scale.
RTM 301/401 = Refine and nurture our network
Refining your network means putting people in the right place. LinkedIn is your business network. There’s plenty of room on Facebook and Instagram for family, friends and contacts that are not really part of your business network. So, after the meeting, did they pass the test? Did they get promoted, demoted, or stay the same? Do we keep them in our LinkedIn network or send them over to our other social media? It’s ok! Not all your contacts will fit this bill. When you find the diamonds in the rough, they are precious to you and the effort and evaluation is well worth it!
Ok, so now we have our list of good guys, and we’ve “tested” them per se. Traditional sales will say that you follow up with them in an organized manner. But about what? To sell them something? Nope. Now you have the opportunity to surpass traditional networking follow ups—the thank you email or the hello on their birthday. You can find a way to be their hero in business. Will you make an introduction for them? Will you impart some knowledge you’ve learned to help them? It’s not about giving away the store, but you can find a way to be a resource to them that will build appreciation, and our ultimate goal, a relationship.
How to Register
I look forward to sharing more about the RobThomasMethod at the Chamber’s Maximizing Your Network webinar series. Register for each of the three sessions below.
September 10: Identify Your Network
September 17: Maximize Your Network