By Jennifer Kushell, co-founder YSN.com “Your Success Network”
This may sound a bit trite, and it’s certainly cliché, but if your goal is to build a business that’s not only successful, but powerful and impactful, it seriously helps to know the right people.
At the helm of your company, your ability to make smart decisions, learn from leading experts, surround yourself with savvy people, and have access to the right resources at the right times, can make all the difference in whether you struggle to survive or thrive.
Now I don’t have to tell you how important networking is. But who do you really need to know? When was the last time you gave that any thought?
We can’t talk about who you need to know without first mentioning those most critical to your life and work. These are the foundational people in your relationship arsenal:
Mentors/Advisors: Seasoned people who can guide you though your most critical decisions, and can play a critical, external role in your business. Having a good mix of these people is essential to you in growing your business.
Peers: Other entrepreneurs and professionals in the trenches who have the best understanding of what you’re setting out to accomplish and what you’re going through on a day-to-day basis.
Contacts: The bulk of the people you know in life and business. Casual relationships and acquaintances, whether purely social or connected in some way to your work.
Confidants: People you can trust with your life and tell practically anything to regardless of how high you fly or hard you fall. They’re the ones who pick you up and dust you off or tell you to get your act together when you get of track.
Friends: Those you socialize with, hang out with, share common experiences with. The people who love and support you for you, not your business, but can also be among the most critical of your decisions and lifestyle.
ONGOING OUTREACH & AWARENESS
Beyond those who make up your foundational support system, you always want to be building your network of people who are making an impact in your community, your circle, your industry, and the greater world at large. Not only does your knowing about certain people show you know the business you’re in, but having access to them can help in a myriad of ways you can only begin to imagine – from raising money, to staffing, landing new clients, opening new doors, meeting great people, going to fabulous events, etc.
To keep on top of the real movers and shakers on a weekly or monthly basis:
• Stay on top of trade publications, newsletters and blogs
• Look at who’s who lists in your industry and related fields
• Read the index first of books, magazines
• Continuously build an electronic file of articles and bookmarks
• Attend as many of the leading conferences and trade shows that you can
• Keep a list of the top people you want to meet with you always…and share it!
Once you get a better sense of who’s who in your industry or related fields, go out and meet them! Introduce yourself, follow them, befriend them online. Learn from them and their work! Get on their radar. Before long, you’ll start to make new friends, colleagues, and hopefully confidants, mentors and advisors.
Putting these tactics to work for you will ensure you keep your finger on the pulse of new trends, that you know the players and that you and your business stay relevant and worthy of recognition and respect. All that and more can be yours when you know all the right people.*
* Personal note: As much as connections can be critical to your success, don’t allow yourself to rely on them too much. It should go without saying that integrity, honesty, providing true value and quality products and services at the very core remain priority #1 for any entrepreneur.
Jennifer Kushell is President & Co-Founder of YSN.com – Your Success Network and Author of NY Times Bestseller Secrets of the Young and Successful.