The importance of your personal and business network cannot be overestimated. When I talk about network I am not talking about the way your computers talk to each other or the internet, I am talking about the people you know and that know you. This has been a tough year for a lot of people, and I am no exception. The only thing that kept it from being disastrous for me was my network.
Who knows you?
I define my network as the people I know and that know me. Chris Brogan says, “It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you.” It’s so true! It doesn’t matter how many people you follow on Twitter, or how many follow you, it’s how many actually see and read what you tweet- how many actually know who you are. That goes for all the social networks.
This is important offline too. If you have a job, how many of the important people in your organization that make the decisions that impact you actually know you? If you have or you’re starting a business, how many of your customers know you? How many of your vendors? What about competition? All of these people can help. Yes, it helps to personally know your competition and for them to know you.
It is important to do this because “Be there before the sale” is just marketing speak for the Boy Scout motto, “Be prepared.” If you are going to start a business, you want to have as many people know who you are as you can. You never know where that next huge customer or linchpin employee or investor is going to come from. If you are looking for work, it is even more important.
I have been expanding my network over time. Nothing overt or pushy, just using Facebook, Twiter, and LinkedIn to get to know more people online. I have been doing the same offline. When I hear about an offline get together or Tweetup, I try to go if family obligation permits. This is not easy, and I’ve only been able to do a few things offline, but I noticed something. I started to see some of the same people. I got to know them, and let them know me a bit.
Let people know what you know
If you are looking for work, this is even more important. Memory Deck has not worked out the way I wanted, and it became important for me to get consulting work to pay the bills. Expanding my network pretty much saved my bacon with this. I put out the word that I was looking for work, and because people already knew what I know about, work came.
Notice I said, “knew what I know about” , and not “knew what I did.” Let people know what you know. You know about so much more than your job or business requires. You’re out there right now, filling your head with knowledge. When you add to that expanding the number of people who know you, and what you you know about, when it comes time to need a new job or more customers, the only part left is the search.
Growing your network and looking for customers or looking for work at the same time is what most of us do. That is why most people have a hard time finding jobs or finding customers. Have you noticed that the people who really seem to get social media always seem to have work? I don’t think it’s a coincidence.
When my partner and I saw that Memory Deck was not scaling the way it needed to in order to support our families, it was time to go to plan B. Sad? Of course! I was pissed off. But I’m a dad first, and I can’t mess around when it comes to providing for my family. So I put it out there to my network that I was opened to new opportunities. And guess what? New opportunities came!
An incredible opportunity has come along to work with Ryan Design here in Toronto. They are one of the most respected real estate marketing agencies in Canada and have done work all over the world. I am going to help grow their interactive marketing department so I get to do all sorts of fun things with websites, touch screens, blue-tooth and proximity marketing and social marketing. I look forward to the challenge.
So this stuff really works. Get into the social networks. Don’t try to game the system and pad your follower and friend count and just look good. Go out there and start meeting people and talk about what interests you. The what you do and what you know stuff will come out naturally. And get offline as much as you can. When I get to meet people in person that I already know online, that is where most of the important stuff happens for me.
Photo by Famulus