I recently spoke with a very generous person, Melissa Giovagnoli, CEO and Founder of Networlding, the same title of her best selling book back in 2000. In some ways the book was ahead of itself, since you can be an even better Networlder today with all the ways to connect and help people through social networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
Networlding relationships start when you clearly express your intent in the broad sense of the word. Quickly and convincingly, you communicate your goals and value, and when you do so, people who resonate to your intent will respond. If someone responds positively and you are able to establish a Networlding relationship, you can reap tremendous benefits. Your new partner will not only do more for you in terms of opportunities but in providing an empathetic ear and a source of fresh ideas.
In contrast, many treat networks transactionally rather than relationally. So they use networks for a limited time for a specific purpose and leave new, ongoing opportunities on the table. When networking, people are bound together because one person needs another to do a deal or create a sale. One particular situation binds them together, and as soon as this situation disintegrates or disappears, there’s nothing left of the relationship to keep it strong enough to survive.
Networlding is a lot like cooperative connection, a component of cooperative intelligence. Networlding is cooperative: networking is often collaborative. This is an important distinction. People know when you are giving to get. They also know when you are giving to give.
The book discusses seven steps to Networlding:
1. Figure out your values
2. Assess the connections you have for their consistency with your values
3. Increase the number and strength of your connections with people who meet your values
4. Initiate relationships where important benefits are exchanged
5. Grow and nurture these relationships
6. Work with these people to create opportunities you can explore in common
7. Re-create your Networld
In Networlding, relationships with people, especially in your primary circle, must involve common intent, trust and values; a mutual exchange of ideas, resources and emotional support; and a commitment to pursue opportunities together. This level of relationship does not happen instantly and requires considerable effort. Share your projects, relevant contacts, new knowledge and skill you’re developing with those in your primary circle. Be selective about who is in your primary circle: the quality of those relationships is much more important than the quantity. Fewer quality sources are easier to manage and maintain. According to anthropologist, Robin Dunbar, the human brain is hardwired to handle a maximum of about 150 active social connections.
To help identify those people who are in your primary circle, organize your relationships according to frequency of contact, level of exchange, responsiveness and type of opportunities developed. You should be spending 80% of your time with those individuals in your primary circle, and only 20% of your time with those in your secondary and tertiary circles.
Assess how well you manage your time with those in your primary circle, and recognize that relationships change over time. So do your business goals. At least once a year, analyze how you spent your time with your primary contacts. Write down what you exchanged with each person: data, analysis, hot tips, referrals, opportunities and emotional support.
- Who are you spending the most time with?
- Who is providing you with the most productive exchange?
- Is any one person providing you with the best exchanges in the least amount of time? How are you reciprocating?
- Who is providing you with the least or lowest quality exchanges over this period of time?
- Are you spending your networking time optimally to reach your goals?
- If not, what change will you make in your network to align with your goals?
- Who is still in your primary circle?
- Is there someone who should be moved to your secondary circle?
- Is there someone in your secondary circle whose relationship with you warrants a move to your primary circle?
- Is there a new colleague who is now in your primary circle?