|Photo by Athena Lam (Unsplash)|
Networking Strategies and Theory Vol. 1
It should be no secret that I am using this blog to catalogue my journey through business and entrepreneurship as well as being a leader. I have currently tasked myself with growing my network of connections and contacts to create an environment conducive of easily reaching people that could help me along the journey.
One problem that I have ran into recently is the actual implementation of actively networking with others. It is an easy idea to ponder but grows more difficult the more you think and the less you do. It seems that I have found myself in a rut of complacency regarding where I am currently at with networking and due to this, I am experiencing some troubles growing my span of influence. This exists on my personal blog as well as various social media platforms that I use. I plan to actively shift this by implementing new strategies that I have researched and plan on discussing here.
One of my end-game goals is to create an entrepreneurial network capable of supporting various ideas and ventures that I may want to pursue either currently or later in life. In order to accomplish this, I need a pretty broad network of individuals across various fields with various specific and general interests that mesh with my own. It goes without questioning that convincing people to network with you is a difficult task, as once you exhaust personal contacts the efforts grow rather cold.
The Limited-Platform Approach
In the beginning, I began looking to network across many different platforms. I distributed my time evenly across all these platforms, thereby restricting my success on all of them due to my time constraints. I believe instead of being active on many platforms I should focus on just a few and integrate them with one another. The downside to this is the potential to miss the big fish because I failed to cast the line into the water. Unfortunately, I’m afraid that this is an acceptable risk due to the time constraints of not being able to monitor and manage accounts myself with consistency. If the neglect of certain platforms to maintain others results in the missing of a big fish, then all other things aside, this approach may end up being less risky.
My action in this is to throw away Instagram and any other platforms that I haven’t currently invested a good deal of time in developing. I intend to keep what I would call my big three: Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. I also believe that it is necessary to keep my Google based platforms, as I am publishing this content on one of Google’s programs. I believe that the time spent in developing the Facebook Group associated with this blog is enough to justify keeping it as well, if for nothing else, to reverberate content that I publish elsewhere. I will suspend growing across other platforms for the immediate future and continue to develop these.
Experience with Blogging Circles and Their Exclusion
In the past months I have become a part of many groups of bloggers promoting their blog. These are excellent communities to join and they all provide such great tips and learning experience. My biggest problem with these now is that they are all other bloggers wanting to publish content and have it recognized. Inherently publishing content and operating a website is a very time-consuming thing. When I run the math in my head, an active blog manager only has a limited number of hours left in their day. This led me to the realization that if you intend to produce substantial results from content, you may have to look for horizons outside of others looking to attract people to join their purpose.
This poses a challenging problem for an entrepreneur with a currently limited network with a low capacity to grow due to time constraints stretched across multiple platforms. I believe the problem lies in direct relevant engagement and then confirmatory engagement. Neither of these happen when you are a part of circles or groups searching for something of their own. I am now going to actively practice limiting my participation in circles of other content creates and try to expand my network in the direction of those actually interested in the subjects that I intend to create a network from.
Defining a Member of My Network
So far before I officially add a contact to my network, I have declared two requirements. The first is that I have had a direct relevant engagement with that person. This would mean that we had an exchange where the basis was topically related to a subject that I am interested in including in my professional network. The two key factors are engagement and topically related. The subject of interest must be present as well as enough interest from the other party to engage in discussion. If these criteria are not present, as I often found, I had a one-sided conversation that resulted in boredom and frustration. I made it a habit to try to achieve this relatively quickly or try to forecast whether that an engagement would be present.
I believe once a direct relevant engagement has happened, you can tentatively include that person in your professional network. I believe full inclusion depends on whether a follow-up engagement happens which proves that they were not just committing a nicety and were good conversationalists.
Since I have defined these criteria for building my network, I have found that I have a lot of potential networking partners to re-evaluate and categorize. I found that I had thought a lot of people were a part of my professional network related to my desire to become an entrepreneur, but were friends appeasing me for conversation. (Which are good to have, and I consider myself lucky to have them all!)
Conclusion and Key to Success
I believe these and many other strategies and networking theories are the key to succeeding with delivering entrepreneurial visions to the world. None of us is as strong as all of us. In believing this I truly believe that teams, teamwork, and team building are key to succeeding in a lot of projects. I believe that especially for entrepreneurs, the secret sauce here is in the quality of networks of people that are built and relied on. It is for this reason that I will continuing publishing content and progress of my personal networking journey to outline the knowledge that I have gained and demonstrate to myself and others how I intend to apply it.