When I first started in business, just brimming with knowledge having only recently completed my studies, one of my partners informed me that KNOW WHO is always more important than KNOW HOW.
Whilst a little deflated at the time, business life and indeed, life in general has taught me that he was 100% right.
When I look at the most successful people in business and indeed life in general, they are invariably the people with the best network and the sales skills required to build that network. They are rarely, if ever, the people who know the most or have the best technical skills.
Clearly having both is beneficial, but not having the relationships is terminal. What is more, the most successful business people are those that can develop relationships in and that can endure any economic environment.
Of course I am not talking just about relationships with customers and potential customers. Whilst they can be critically important, relationships with financiers, suppliers, legislators, the media, and other stakeholders can also be critical.
Developing those relationships inevitable involves personal networking and will never follow from online connecting, no matter how well you do it. The optimal approach involves BOTH personal networking and online connecting.
The fact is however few people are good at personal networking and even fewer are good at online connecting.
Effective personal networking requires three things that successful business people have in spades:
- Personal networking and relationship building skills
- Personal self-confidence and networking confidence
- A personal brand that is well defined and managed
There are a range of skills that are essential, including those relating to attention, body language, engagement, development, reciprocation, follow up and identification. These skills can be readily learned, but despite this, few use them optimally. Few people I meet have the confidence to network effectively. Indeed, research shows that a lack of confidence is the principle reason for ineffective networking. No, it is not just you – it is most people.
Addressing this issue is also not difficult. It involves strategies to build general confidence (which helps in all areas of business) and networking confidence. Confidence can built quickly and is essential. Everyone has a personal brand, but it may not be the brand that other people will respond optimally towards. The fact is successful people put a lot of effort into defining, living and communicating the optimal personal brand.
Everyone can build a personal brand as strong as Richard Branson. You just need to know how. Of course the fourth factor, not on my list, is discipline. Like everything else in business you need the discipline to implement the strategies, skills, confidence and branding you have developed.
But that is not difficult either – if you have the skills, confidence and brand in the first place. Indeed, until you have the skills, confidence and brand you will find it very difficult to be disciplined as you will not find networking a rewarding experience.
Fortunately, all of this can be learned.
This issue will be discussed in detail on THE D. JOHN CARLSON NETWORK –www.djohncarlsonesq.com/publishing
John Carlson is a behavioural scientist, strategic planner and lateral thinker focusing on branding, marketing, communication, personal advancement, business development and behaviour management.
This subject is also addressed in these workshops.
Specific strategies will be addressed for members of THE D. JOHN CARLSON NETWORK.