What is a network and why is this so important?
A network is defined as ‘To interact with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts’.
When I look at all of the most successful entrepreneurs, business owners, and changemakers, they all have one thing in common. A thriving interconnecting network that resembles a spider’s web. A safety net to lean on when you feel unstable, or a community of like-minded individuals to go to for advice, support, and elevation.
It’s important to understand in the first instance, why is this important to you?
Today we’re going to go through the 4 key principles that are important to not only growing your network, but how you can harness its power to work with more dream clients, and increase your net worth.
Principle 1. Your Network Is Your Net Worth.
Putting a metric or ROI on relationships can be hard. And yet the more you build your network, you soon come to realize that your relationship with others is everything. When we begin to focus more on ‘the who’, it can in most cases alleviate any confusion on ‘the how’. By simply looking to your network and who can help you with a problem or issue, then we no longer have to worry about finding out how to do it.
Think of it like this.
How valuable was the first fax machine? Maybe the first telephone?
In truth, their value is zero. Because without a second device, the stand-alone fax machine or phone cant be used to transmit to or communicate with. This is based on a concept called Metcalfe’s Law.
Metcalfe’s Law was thought up by Robert Metcalfe, the man who created the ethernet cable, which of course was used to connect the internet. This states that the value of a network grows by the square of a network’s size. In simple terms, every time you add one new connection point, the entire network becomes exponentially more valuable.
Take the image below for example. We can see that when we move from 2 phones to 5, we are no longer adding just 3 more connection points but 10. Now imagine this on a broader scale and imagine there are 100 connections, this would bring you 10,000 connections.
So where do you need to be in the network for the greatest impact and benefit? The center.
When we all think about sharing our ideas, business concepts, transformation, or gifts with others, we tend to think this is the only way we can offer value. What we need to start thinking about is the level that’s above that, which is curation and connection. You will be creating value by connecting people to other people, people to resources, or to the solution they need that isn’t delivered or given by you.
Principle 2. Connection is a GIFT.
I am a firm believer that being a connector is a gift. If you are starting out or are in the early stages of your changemaker journey, you will tend to be trading your time to develop and share your gift, Which of course is the value you are creating for others.
What many fail to realize is that part of the value you are creating for others is in the connection itself. A simple way to be able to increase your value to your potential clients is by being a connector to the rest of the world. You don’t have to have all of the answers, because you’ll find as your network expands and evolves, so will your connections to those who do hold the answers.
Don’t get me wrong, It’s very easy to stay in the mindset that the only way you provide value is through your gift itself, when in actual fact, connection to the rest of the world is hugely valuable.
Remember… It’s not always what you know, but who you know.
Principle 3. Dunbar’s Number
Based on the theory devised by Robert Dunbar, Dunbar’s Number is based on studies of early tribes and primates. He found that the average person or primate in a tribe could only maintain around 150 relationships.
When this data and theory was used in a trial in current times, it was again found that the average person can maintain on average, 150 meaningful relationships. But what is classed as a meaningful relationship?
Imagine you were sitting in a restaurant and one of the 150 people walked in. You would call that person over and invite them to sit with you. This is what would be classified as a ‘meaningful relationship’.
And we can see this trend appear across our social media platforms. According to a study carried out by Hashtagforlikes.co, the average Instagram user has 150 followers, so we can see this follows in a similar way to Dunbar’s Theory.
So what happens when we look outside of the magic 150 number? Well, evidence suggests that any more than this and it becomes very challenging to maintain, relationships can start to break down and you won’t be getting the absolute most out of that connection.
Principle 4. A Rising Tide Lifts All The Boats
This principle sounds great, but what does it mean in real life?
When looking at principle 4, we need to focus on a term called ‘edify’.The word edify is defined as ‘To instruct or improve (someone) morally or intellectually’ in simple terms, it means lifting someone or elevating them up. By using this method, you can support and elevate everyone within your network, and you along with it.
Now, this can be as simple as talking well about them to others, supporting them on the smallest level, promoting or helping them to be one step closer to reaching their dream.
Now 150 connections may feel like a lot to find, so I want you to break this down into 3 groups of people.
Group 1: ‘The People Behind You’
To help visualize this, think of your journey right now. There will be people behind you that see what you are doing in your life that would dream to be in your scenario. They aspire to reach the level you are at right now and would love to learn and understand how to do this. This can be an easy group to support because you’ve been there, you have the experience and empathy already to know what they’re going through, so it’s a relatively straightforward process.
Group 2: ‘The People Beside You’
This is an easy one. This is the network of people who are at the same point in your journey as you. You may talk to them about the relatable issues you both have going on in your business, you may offer advice back and forth, or share tips and tricks with them. This is the group of people that you may be in a mastermind, program, or membership on the journey together. In simple terms, they are your peers.
Group 3: ‘The People Ahead Of You’
Now for this group, we’re thinking of the people who are at a stage in their journey where you want to be in the future. You may think, how is it possible to support the people that are ahead of me?
The key to remember here is that those that are ahead of you on the path, don’t care that you are still behind them because the value you are providing by sharing your gift is what pushes them further ahead. For me, it’s the gift of connection. So the value I create for others is being able to connect them to all types of people, resources, or use my platform to allow them to have a greater impact.
It’s going to be so important to spend time with people who fall in each of these groups, which is why I use the saying, “we are not self-made but community-made.”
So what exactly do you need to do, to start to create wider and more impactful connections?
I’ve broken these down into 5 easy-to-follow steps:
Step 1 – Establish your 150 connections. Open up a google sheet and list your 150 connections. This will grow over time, but try to start with as many as you can up to 150.
Step 2 – Establish what their dreams are. This gives you an opportunity to have conversations with others. If you can’t do this in a group format, a simple text or email will suffice. These may not even be clients, it could be people you serve, people beside you, or people ahead of you.
Step 3 – Who can help accelerate their dream? These are the question we need to ask ourselves. This is exactly how we make greater connections. Have a think of anyone you already know that could help support them further.
Step 4 – Make one connection every day. Open up a google sheet, name it the ‘connection sheet’ and add in every introduction you make. This is a great way to track over time the wider impact you are having on your network.
Step 5 – Follow up and show them you care. This may seem simple, but not many people take the time to follow up on their introduction and their connection. Remember, you want to be at the center of that connection diagram, so make sure you are keeping in touch and show genuine compassion and empathy.
Once you’ve established the following:
- Who your 150 connections are.
- What their dreams are.
- Who can help accelerate their dream.
Then it’s time for the final part…
How To Make An Introduction.
The first thing you need to make sure you do not do is send an email to both parties straight away, making the introduction without first asking permission.
Reach out to whoever it is you’re looking to help first. Explain, “I understand you want to work with ‘Xyz’, I have a connection to ‘Xyz person’, who I think would be super valuable to know, would you like me to make an introduction?”
Only when you get permission from both sides do you then create the connection. What’s great about getting the permission first is they already know a bit about each other from your initial contact, and they don’t have to start fresh. Now, of course there may be cases where there is a level of intimacy and trust where you may not always need to ask that permission.
If you already have a long-standing close relationship, then that may not always be needed.
There is something important to remember here though. You should always be doing this so that there is a far greater benefit to them, way more than a benefit to you.
And never forget… All of us are smarter than any of us.
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