Your Network Reflects You: Networking to Grow Your Business

How to Use Your Network and Not Lose It

When an entrepreneur or business owner first asks for help to grow their business, they probably expect us to help with developing strategy, managing cashflow, building business plans, and so on. 

While we do all the above, those we work with are often surprised when we say, “Have you asked your network?”

In our article ‘A values-based business will save your life and grow your business’, we discussed why networking is important and how it can help to grow your business (and save your life). We outlined that a strategic network:

  • Is built around people who understand you, and whose values resonate with your own

  • Delivers motivation, complimentary skills, clients, and more

In that article, we also highlighted ways in which you can build your network. Since it was published, we have been asked how you can use your network to help grow your business. 

Here is our condensed answer – remember that your network reflects you. In other words, treat your connections as you want them to treat you.

Here are our seven rules for using a network to help grow your business.

Networking Rule #1: Share your story

The best people to help you are those who get you. Those who share your sense of purpose. 

If you want to grow your business, forget about profit. Go all in on values. As Ken Andrukow says, the core differentiator is you. People, businesses, and customers connect with you. They connect with your business because it reflects your values and your purpose. So, tell your story.

Networking Rule #2: Pay it forward

This is one of the most important of all networking rules. Give first. If you ask before you give, people will become wary of your intentions for connecting in the first place. They will become less likely to offer advice that could help to grow your business. You will create a circle of takers, instead of a circle of support.

Networking Rule #3: Google is your friend, too

Okay, before you reach out for advice, consult Google. It’s a huge resource that is underused. It also helps you to build up some understanding of a subject before you seek the specialist advice you really need – and that can be invaluable.

Even if you feel you’re unlikely to find the exact answer you need online (and there is a real knack to extracting true, useful, and usable info from search engines and the web), it should always be your starting point. You may find that it helps you to drill down into the detail of what you really need, too.

Networking Rule #4: Target your request for help

Doesn’t a blanket request for help or advice infuriate you?

Yet how often do you see a plea for help posted on Facebook. “Can any of my friends tell me...?” “Do any of my friends know how to…?”

All this shows is a lack of knowledge of a person’s network. The person asking has collected connections for the sake of collecting connections. Don’t be that person.

You should be having meaningful conversations with your connections. You should know what their areas of expertise are, and the help that they may be able to give. If you don’t, then you’ve either built an unmeaningful and ineffective network or you haven’t connected effectively. (See our article ‘9 strategic steps and networking tips for entrepreneurs’ for help creating a more effective network.)

Networking Rule #5: Be genuine

If you need help from your targeted connections, always make sure that your request is genuine. If it’s seen as a cloaked attempt to promote your own services, you put your integrity at risk. Your connection will be offended. You won’t receive the help you desire; your connection is far less likely to refer you; and you will find it more difficult to grow your network and your business.

Networking Rule #6: Be sensitive

We return to the need to know and understand your network. Each person in your network will have subjects or issues that they feel uncomfortable with. Don’t go there. If you manufacture meat products, you probably shouldn’t ask a vegan for advice about marketing them. You get the picture – be sensitive to the sensitivities of others.

Networking Rule #7: Don’t ask for free advice from those who normally charge

Finally, don’t ask for free, in-depth advice from those who normally charge for it. Ask a couple of questions that you must, but don’t embarrass a connection by drilling too deep. If you need more, learn when it is appropriate to request their paid services.

Are you using your network effectively?

Your network should possess the ability to help you grow your business. The expertise it holds can help you by providing skills and knowledge that you need, as well as capabilities that will help improve your business. 

When you have identified the specific advice and help you need, it is time to put your network to work for you. This is, in fact, where many entrepreneurs find it so difficult. They know that their business has the potential of 10x growth, but they aren’t sure of the help or direction they should follow.

Are you using your network effectively?

Are you finding it difficult to build a more effective network?

Just how do you leverage your network to improve what you are doing?

The answers to these questions and many more are only a contact away. Get in touch, and we’ll share our most effective networking secrets with you.


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