One of the make it or break its for a lot of entrepreneur’s is having a world-class network. If you have a strong network, your business can withstand just about anything and opportunities will always come your way. Often more opportunities than you know what to do with, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Conversely, if you don’t have a world-class network, it’s going to be harder in just about any industry.
In a recent conversation with Kevin Harrington (Shark Tank, Entrepreneurs’ Organization, As Seen on TV) at a mastermind event, I realized to a further degree the importance of constant high-end networking. And it’s validated by the fact that someone like Kevin Harrington is still doing 100-plus events a year and networking all over the place even though he is already massively successful.
1. Always be networking.
Harrington is really the poster boy for this. He told me that he goes over 100 events a year between speaking engagements, masterminds, tradeshows, conferences, you name it he’s there.
And even with an established network as large and high-end as his, he’s still out networking. Now if any new entrepreneur comes along and doesn’t think they need to be networking, this should be a wake-up call that everyone including the most successful entrepreneur’s on the planet are always networking.
And if you haven’t even started building your network, you need to start immediately. Many of the world’s most successful entrepreneur’s will directly attribute the quality of their network and the people that surround them to their ultimate success.
2. Here's where to network.
- Seminars: These are worthwhile if you are well known in your industry, if you are speaking at the seminar, or if you have a connection that can introduce you to the best people. If you don’t have a connection, then the next best bet is to mingle and ask others at the event who else of high value you should absolutely meet. Tim Ferriss was notorious for doing this at SXSW early in his career with great success.
- Masterminds: This is going to sound weird at first, but spend as much money as possible on masterminds. The more money you spend, the better your chances of meeting other highly successful people. A $1 mastermind event won’t necessary attract financially successful people, but a $10,000 or $25,000 event is more likely to attract higher caliber (and more successful) people. That’s where I met Harrington, at a high-end mastermind.
- Personal introductions: Find a way to collaborate with highly successful people that you know well. The best business will come from high-level introductions, you can even offer them a commission if you sell a service. Ask your best contacts to introduce you to 3 people that they think you should talk to, and do the same for them. If you don't ask, it may never happen. The worst that can happen is you get a "no."
3. How to network like a pro.
A high-quality introduction will carry you, don’t overcompensate. Far too often, people that get super high-level introductions, go on to blow the opportunity because they came off too aggressive or salesy. The best way to leverage a great introduction is to trust that since you have been introduced by a great source and not try to overcompensate.
This was validated to me when I met Harrington at the mastermind event. He embodied this idea one-hundred percent. He wasn’t salesy or over-aggressive, he just owned who he was and what he was all about.
You should follow in Harrington's footsteps and always look to find a mutual connection with the individual. If you come off extremely aggressively from the beginning, you may scare off many people.
The more points of mutual connection (i.e. your from the same city, you like a similar sports team, drive the same car, both passionate about the same industries or are both fans of a particular brand) the faster and easier it will be to build rapport. And after the event or meeting, they will be much more likely to remember you if you built up that rapport with mutual points of interest.
4. Follow up is crucially important.
Networking is not over after the first meeting. To build a quality relationship, it takes many conversations.
In the case of Harrington, I noted that there was one in-person meeting, along with multiple emails and phone calls. And really, this would just be the beginning with someone that you want to build a lasting relationship with.
Make sure to constantly add value to the other person by sending them interesting articles, retweeting their important Tweets, making introductions for them (after asking of course), and paying it forward in various ways.
Related Book: Networking Like a Pro by Ivan Misner
One parting piece of advice is always to ask before introducing anyone to another person. The most annoying thing in the world is having people constantly introducing you to people you didn’t want to be introduced to. A strong networker always asks before making introductions to others.