Think Facebook is the most powerful social network? Nope. Twitter? No way. LinkedIn? Think again.
Let me explain.
You probably know that building a network is a critical component of being successful in business. Having the right people -- and hopefully a lot of the right people -- to provide introductions or spread the word about your products and services can create the difference between success and mediocrity in your business.
With technology, we have the opportunity to put our networks on steroids. We can friend, follow and link our way into a social network of hundreds, thousands or tens of thousands of people.
However, a couple of years ago, I found that a senior citizen’s network trumped all of that technology.
When I wrote my book, The Entrepreneur Equation, in 2011, I was blessed to have tons of wonderful people help me in varying degrees to promote the book and spread my important messages about approaching entrepreneurship. They tweeted, wrote blog posts, posted on Facebook and more. But even with all of the fabulously connected folks that I had in my network, one person stood out above all else in helping me market my book: my dad.
My dad died last year, but let me tell you a bit about him. At the time of my book launch, he was 75 and uneducated (that isn’t a typo). He did not graduate from college, was a union electrician for 40 years and couldn’t spell the word banana (seriously, he spelled it “banna”). So, he wasn’t some wealthy high-flyer -- he was the salt-of-the earth, hardworking average American.
Now Bernie (that’s his name), also wasn’t really that impressed by books. At the time of his passing, I’m fairly sure he still didn’t know what my book was about. Plus, when I called him to tell him the book had won the Axiom Gold Medal Book Award in the Entrepreneurship category, his response was, “That’s nice. Did you know that your sister won $2,500 playing poker in Vegas?!”
Despite his “specialness,” my dad did have something incredibly powerful to bring to book marketing -- an amazing social network. No, not Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. His social network was offline -- strong friends that he built and cultivated relationships with for decades, some of whom he had been friends with for more than 60 years at that time.
My dad called each and every one of those friends. He didn’t send a blast email, a tweet or an update. He picked up the phone or had lunch with them. And every single one of those people bought at least one copy (and in many cases multiple copies) of my book. My dad had a 100% success rate in helping me.
Now, this feels a bit like the pre-Girl Scouts Brownies troupe where my dad also used his network to help me sell Samoas and Thin Mints so I could get some kind of a badge, but my point is that for significant and air-tight results, you have to build long-term relationships and they don’t always have to be -- but, of course, can be -- online. Better yet, if you start them online, take them offline to take them to the next level.
Also, think about reaching out in a more personal way. Tech-based tools are great to start a connection, but can you pick up the phone from time to time or find other ways to connect to make your relationship more meaningful?
I worry that with the ease of communication, we are swapping quality communication for the quantity of communication. Anything that is worthwhile is going to take some work, so if you find a worthwhile connection, spend the time to foster it.
When my dad died last year, he had more than 100 people show up to the funeral, pay their respects or send thoughts and wishes. That’s the kind of “network” you want to have.
It’s tempting to want to go for quantity of online “friends” that you can build quickly versus focusing on the quality of substantial relationships that take more time and investment. But as my dad showed, the quality connections are the ones that pay off over a lifetime.