Monday, September 16, 2013
Program Your NPS: Networking Positioning Strategy
When you make a wrong turn driving to a destination your GPS (Global Positioning System) begins to recalculate. It only takes a few seconds for the system to examine the situation and re-map your route to get you back on track.
In your journey to create a productive and mutually-beneficial network of professional contacts you need to have a GPS of sorts,.... you should create your own "NPS" (Networking Positioning Strategy). It is easy to get off track in cultivating meaningful relationships, but when you make your network a priority and have a strategy on how to engage with others, you can quickly recalculate your next action if you drift off course.
A Networking Positioning Strategy will remind you to focus on why you are investing in people over the long run. It is a gut check to stop seeking short term personal gain. Too often people are waiting for others to magically send referrals, without ever looking for how to help those they encounter. In our social media crazy world it is easy to confuse a "like", "link", "share" or "follow" for a meaningful connection, but without a establishing an ongoing relationship there will be little value.
Your "NPS" is your key to making networking a priority. Everyone is busy, and without a strategy you may not gain much traction in building connections. Knowing your purpose and your desired outcomes will help you make the tough questions as you engage with people in your business community.
To create your NPS plan, ask yourself seven questions:
1. Why do I network? Know what you want to accomplish by being an active member of your business community. Showing up and trading business cards is a waste of time unless you have a plan. If you only show up at events when you have a personal need you will be seen as a "taker", and others will not go out of their way to help you. Networking is not verb (you do not "go network") - instead it is a lifestyle.
2. With whom should I network? There are a lot of business and social organizations, and you cannot be active in everything. A key to having a productive strategy is selecting the right places to be active. Knowing the types of people with whom you will best be able to create mutually beneficial relationships is paramount to success.
3. Where do I fall on the introvert / extrovert spectrum? Knowing yourself matters. Introverts and extroverts find their energy through different situations. Going to a big event can be draining for some, while others get excited by the experience. This does not mean introverts can't get value from going to networking events, they just have to prepare differently. When you are honest with yourself about how you react in group situations you will have more success.
4. What do I expect from people in my network? If you expect others to assist you in making connections, then you should lead by example. Too often people hope others will help them without ever thinking about how to create a give and take friendship.
5. Am I comfortable serving others without a direct personal reward? Networking means helping others, and often the people you assist will not, or cannot, return the favors. Some do not have the right contacts, others do not have "Follow Through DNA" (meaning they want to help you, but never seem to get around to following through). You have enjoy seeing others succeed without keeping score or you will quickly become disillusioned.
6. What do I bring to others? We all have unique abilities in what we can do to serve others. Understand your talents and use them to have an impact. Remember that your talents are valuable when shared in the right circumstances.
7. What does success look like? If you do not know what you desire, you will spin your wheels and get frustrated. Be clear with what you are hoping to achieve in your career and personal life, and it will make it much easier to answer the tough questions that come up along the way.
Review your answers and create a plan of action. Have a strategy for what you want to accomplish and with whom you want to be associated with in your efforts. All opportunities come from people and your commitment to being an active part of your community will lead you to better results.
When you feel you are not making progress in cultivating relationships, take time to "recalculate" and check in with your "NPS" to help you plan how to continue to position yourself with value to those around you.
Have A Great Day