There are many benefits to networking but you have to remember that we are dealing with people.
1. Friendship Benefits
A benefit that does not necessarily convert to Dollars. Do not overlook the simple benefit of having friends in the business with no strings attached. We need to know someone has our back, that we have people who are there for us. It can be lonely when you work alone, with only a monitor light to keep you company.
Having someone who understands is extremely valuable on all levels. Your friends can chat to keep you motivated and cheery, are a sounding board for ideas, or will listen to you moan when you need it.
People need people.
Now to contrast with the touch-feely first benefit, here is where the big bang of ROI kicks in. The most significant monetary benefit my network has brought me, and we are talking six figures from just one contact, is the opportunities they expose me to or introduce me to.
If you are not getting enough opportunities, then you need to build your network. Opportunities like joint ventures, client leads, partnerships, speaking and writing gigs, businesses or assets bought and sold … you name it.
All the best opportunities are shared person to person in back channels. Everything from prime domain sales through to employment opportunities. If two people are equally qualified then it goes to who you know, like and trust. A lot of the time even when the person you like is less qualified. Getting passed over for plum gigs? This is why.
This one networking benefit alone has to be worth an astronomical amount.
There are two problems that stop people thinking of this benefit, though:
People do not give credit to their network when opportunities arise. They either think “Of course I got this opportunity, I am awesome” or they think they were just lucky.
Bad networking leads to a lack of opportunity, and can actually damage your ability to attract the best opportunities. It is better for nobody to know who you are, rather than be known as a jerk. Sorry, it is a simple truth.
We all like to give friends advice, and sometimes they even ask for it!
There are some things The Google can’t tell you. If I had gotten all the free advice I have received over the years from paid consultants then … well, I would have a massive deficit in my bank account or wouldn’t be writing this to you now.
We rely on our networks to advise us and keep us on track, and we give back to our networks in return. Give a lot and you have credit in the bank when you need to make a withdrawal. The better your network the more knowledge you can tap into.
If you only get occasional advice from your network then you are in significant net profit from your efforts.
Someone once told me the definition of a friend is someone who will help you move house with no notice and no expectation of payment. I’m not sure about that but I think mutual help is definitely part of the definition, and one of the ways you can benefit from networking. Not the house thing, the helping part.
Promotion – Giving you a boost in traffic, reputation, or sales
Community – Helping you build conversation and community
Links – Links in terms of Google juice, or sharing news and info from their networks
Introductions – Connecting you to people you would like to meet or who they think are awesome
Getting you out of a hole – Fixing dodgy code, giving you a heads up when you goof, or having your back when someone attacks
5. Positive Influence
You become who you associate with. This works in the negative, as any parent will have thought about while considering who their kids friends are or will be. It also works in the positive, if you surround yourself with the right people then the attitudes, habits, world view, and associations will rub off.
Modeling successful people is a proven way to improve your own performance, what better than to be able to model people up close and personal?
The tribe you select will have a profound impact on your work and life, so choose well.