There is not one single thing more valuable to you as a business professional than your network. Not your degree(s), not your job security, not your salary — your network and the relationships you build inside of it are the single most important things to you as a business professional.
No tactics, no gimmicks, no bait-n-switch…I’m sharing the cold hard facts with you. As a business professional, the relationships you build will out-rank great work, great opportunity, and/or great luck. Now let me be clear, I’m not saying that a business-person can survive simply on good relationships and their network.The power of your network is not a magic pill that will negate the requirements of producing great work, realizing great opportunities, or even the existence of “good luck”. But what the power of your network and the relationships you’ve built does do is affect each and every one of those other requirements. A powerful network enhances your great work. A powerful network produces more opportunities. A powerful network increases the likelihood of more “good luck”.
Here are three power moves you aren’t doing that you should be doing to build a powerful network:
The power of the handwritten ‘Thank You’.
There isn’t anything more powerful in your tool box than an immediate and sincere thank you. Anytime I meet with someone, whether an old friend, new friend, business friend, mentor…you name it, I send a hand-written thank you card. Excluding note taking, when was the last time you hand wrote anything? Can you still write all 26 letters of the alphabet in cursive? I can’t, but I still send them.
There are three important things to include in the thank you card: 1) A direct reference to something you talked about when you met, so it shows that the card wasn’t pre-written. 2) A compliment on something you took away from meeting and what you plan to do with it. 3) A sincere reason why it was important to you.
Be sincere, like seriously bro, SINCERE. Genuine sincerity in saying “thank you” is a power move that less than 5 percent of other business professionals are consistently doing. This isn’t like getting a Happy Birthday card from your Realtor. This is a “I took the time out of my busy day to sincerely say thank you for grabbing coffee with me” that others aren’t doing. I’ve been writing handwritten thank you cards since 2009, and I can tell you that, unequivocally, you’ll stand out and people will remember.
The power of the follow-through.
Balls get dropped. But let me ask you this: how many times have you been frustrated in the last month because someone has dropped the ball in a meeting request? Whether they go e-mail silent, or continually reschedule from forgetfulness, or any of the other myriad of reasons two people don’t meet. Be the Meetings Happening Superhero. If you are wanting to get in front of someone, be the concrete planner with a follow-through others envy.
We are all ridiculously busy people. Between email, Twitter, Gcal, Facebook and you know, seeing people in real life — keeping a schedule to figure out meetings is the last thing any of us have time for. Be the fixer. I can give you example after example of times where my tenacity to stay current and follow-through on meeting initiatives netted me something awesome. From new business relationships, to job opportunities, to heck, even new friends — flex the power of your follow-through muscle.
The power of shutting up and listening.
How many times in the last six months have you been in a one-on-one coffee or lunch meeting where the other person wouldn’t shut up? I’d like to go on the record of saying that listening is the single-most underused power tool in a businessman’s tool chest. Its deafening how loud we are and how little we listen.
Be the opposite. Listen first, talk second. I’ll bet you a nickel that you’ll be SHOCKED by how many more takeaways you have, how much deeper your relationship go, and how much enjoyment you receive by being a listen-first-relationship-builder. It’s so powerful when you start to implement it that you’ll find, even outside of building relationships, it improves other things in your life, too.
Thank you, follow-through, and listen. The three powers that be in improving the power of your network. Relationships are a BIG deal. Start treating them as such.