Time - the greatest gift you can give

Time – the greatest gift you can give to grow your network

If there is one networking technique that is highly understated, it is giving your time. To do so, you must make time for entrepreneur networking. Let’s look at a few ways that you can do this.

Every action has a reaction

Give and you shall receive. You reap what you sow. One’s actions will have consequences. Every person is the architect of their own fortune. Hundreds of sayings like these all deliver the same message: what you do today, will deliver its results tomorrow (or some other time in the future).

This is just as true of your networking efforts as any of your other efforts. Yet most networking guides fail to mention the most valuable commodity in the world – time. Think about it for a moment. When someone takes the time to call you, or sit down and explain a technical solution, or help you solve a problem, or offer their advice… how does that make you feel? Good, right? Respected? Valued?

The greatest gift that we can give someone is our time. When we do so, we are saying, “Hey, you really matter to me. I’m going to put everything else that I have going on to one side, and I’m going to spend some time with you.

That’s one powerful message. There’s just one problem. You’re short of time yourself. 

Making time to give time

I wonder how many opportunities you’ve missed because you haven’t had the time to connect with someone. You’ll never know. As I’m writing this, just halfway through 2020, we’re still in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic. A terrible time for business. Yet there are some entrepreneurs who are flooded with new business – from their network.

They have stayed in touch, sent messages of support, been helpful without expecting anything in return. They’re not in one of the growth industries (like facemask production). Just running ‘ordinary’ businesses. 

What they have done is remained true to their values as their businesses have been growing. They have built their networks based on these values. Now they are reaping the rewards of the time they have given to their network.

Here are five ways to use time as a tool to build a network that will work for you.

1. Make networking part of your daily routine

Take time each working day to reach out to existing and new connections. Like Rome, an entrepreneur’s network is not built in a day. It takes time, but each new connection is a building block to greater success. 

Look for people who are in your field or who have complimentary skills. Then reach out to them, but don’t ask for anything. Send them a message with useful information or complimenting them on a post they have published.

Set a time to do this each day, and stick to that time religiously. Eventually it will become a habit, and the time spent will start to reward you.

2. Be visible online and offline

If you stay in the shade, you’ll never get a tan. It’s that reflected effort that you want to encourage. So, you must be visible. With professional social media networks like LinkedIn, being visible is much easier today. Here are four things you should be doing every day:

  • Comment on others’ posts

  • Share content

  • Be helpful whenever you can

  • If someone comments on a post that you have published or shared, always reply – even if only to say ‘thanks’

You should also participate in groups and forums, and don’t forget the power of being visible offline, too. Become involved in local trade associations, and offer to provide insightful commentary to newspapers and magazines. Speak at events and conferences, or take a stall at a targeted trade show.

3. Get personal

As you make connections, consider asking questions or providing your views, suggestions, and recommendations in private. On LinkedIn and other social media networks, consider sending a private message. This makes your contact more personal, making the recipient feel more special.

If someone asks you a question, make sure to make the time to answer – and answer as quickly as possible.

4. Keep in touch with your network

As your network grows, it will become more difficult to stay in touch with all your connections. You may have to prioritize. What you must not do is neglect your current network and focus only on building new connections. Your network will grow and deliver its benefits when you stay connected with them. Here are a few ways to keep in touch:

  • Send an e-card to your connections on their birthdays

  • Congratulate them with a personal message when they announce a new job or promotion – and make sure you show genuine interest by asking them about their new role

  • When a connection posts on LinkedIn, make a comment and share their article

  • Maintain a list of the connections in your network and their expertise, and send referrals to them or refer them to others (but always ask first!)

Review your current connections daily and include the above actions in your daily routines. At a minimum, set aside time each week to catch up with your network.

5. Don’t waste a single minute

Not convinced you have the time to reach out to new connections and stay in touch with a growing network? What about all the times you find yourself hanging around? Or the time you spend on a flight or train? This is when you can be at your most proactive. 

Speak to the person next to you. Get your phone out and send those messages of congratulations. Write a 100-word post on an insightful article you have just read, and publish it on LinkedIn. Check your emails and send your replies.

Pay it forward

Developing and maintaining a network is a forward-looking business building strategy. But you need to invest in it. That investment is your time. 

When you offer your advice, insight, expertise, and the benefit of your experience to others, they are more likely to become an active participant in your network. You stay at the front of their (often subconscious) thoughts. You are more likely to receive help, referrals, and the expertise you need when you need it.

Simply put, successful networking is about creating solutions and creating opportunities – and the more of those that you can create for others, the more they will create for you in the future. You’re simply paying it forward.

Hey, we’d love to hear about your networking successes and failures. What strategies have you used to grow your network successfully, and what are you finding difficult? Let us know in the comments below, and don’t forget to catch up with the Black Diamond podcasts.

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