I have been involved in financial services for five decades. I was lucky enough to begin as a life insurance agent. One of the first lessons I learned was the importance of networking in building my brand. I was encouraged by my manager and more experienced agents to get involved in associations and the community.
For me, networking came quite naturally. I soon realized that I had a number of networks through family, friends, shared experiences in school, sports or common interests. While networking came relatively easily to me, I had not thought of it strategically. Strategy is defined as the alignment of outputs/objectives, capabilities and resources and the opportunities and challenges the environment provides. My objective as a life insurance agent was to make sales. My primary resource was my relationships and my capabilities in building relationships based upon trust and commonality of interest. Networking provided the opportunity for meeting people on a favourable basis.
When we think about networking, it is often based upon the premise: “What can you do for me?” We view networking as a means to an end. The purpose is to achieve our objectives. I learned early in my life and in my work that a more effective premise in building relationships of trust and commonality of interest is: “What can I do for you?” To the extent that I could do something for the other person, they were more likely to reciprocate and do something for me. There are two principles of influence:
1. Focus on the other person. Make them the centre of the experience.
2. Earn the right to move the relationship forward. When you ask questions and listen to what is important to the other person, you earn the right to proceed in the relationship. Buying is a series of micro-decisions.
A number of years ago, I was introduced to Bob Littell and his concept of NetWeaving. Bob articulated what I have learned through experience. When you adopt a mindset of building relationships based upon what can I do for you, it sets you apart and engenders trust. People are more willing to help you achieve your goals.
When you combine NetWorking and NetWeaving, you are applying a very powerful promotional initiative that builds your personal and professional brand. You attract more of the right people into your Network and Social Circle.
At The Covenant Group, we teach our clients how to implement eight robust marketing or promotional initiatives to build their brands. One of these initiatives is NetWorking/NetWeaving. We emphasize the importance of aligning your strategy and tactics, planning and implementation in NetWorking/NetWeavng. You start with a clear plan of action with regard to how you will NetWork and NetWeave to build your brand. Then, you execute your strategy daily, weekly, monthly and annually. NetWorking and NetWeaving are an integral part of your marketing.