Your Network Should be Both Wide and Deep

2503 reads

If your network is a mile wide and an inch deep, it will never be very powerful. You need a strong and stable network that is both wide and deep. Like the supporting roots of a huge oak tree, some of your referral relationships need to go deeper. You create deeper relationships by learning as much as you can about other people. You want to find out details about their family, their interests, and their goals. Get to know them a little bit better.

I think the absolute master at this is definitely Harvey Mackay, a speaker and best-selling motivational author. The first time I spoke to Harvey on the phone, he must have been taking notes about everything I said. The second time I had a conversation with him, Harvey surprised me by asking, “So, how are your kids? You’ve got three, right? What are Ashley and Cassie doing now? And how’s Trey doing—is he about ready to go to college?”

I was thinking, “Wow! How did you remember all that?” The more I spoke to Harvey, the more I became convinced that he had a system for keeping track of the important details of the people in his network.

Now when I talk to him, I know what he’s doing, and I love it! I’m impressed by Harvey’s system because it takes work. He has a database of the people in his network, and he does some research before calling anyone. And he’s continually adding and updating the information—your pets’ names, your children’s names, your birthday, and the anniversary of your company startup. Harvey sets himself apart by putting in an effort to honor people by remembering what’s important to them. It’s hard not to be impressed by that.

That’s what I mean by going deep with your relationships. Are there other ways to do this? Certainly, but I think Harvey Mackay’s system is excellent. We live in this sound-bite society in which most people want to get right down to business without getting to know the other person. What I’ve found is when you really get to know somebody, amazing things happen.

Here’s a good example of this. In our BNI groups, we introduced a tool called the GAINS profile—it stands for “Goals, Accomplishments, Interests, Networks, and Skills.” We tested it on a small group of people to see if it would work. Each person filled it out for themselves, listing their goals, accomplishments, interests, networks, and skills—both personal and professional. Two guys in our test group didn’t want to fill out their GAINS profiles. “This is just silly,” they complained.

I said, “That’s why we’re testing this tool with you guys before we roll it out. If it doesn’t work, then tell us. But you have to try it first.”

So these two skeptical guys had a conversation and shared their goals, accomplishments, interests, networks, and skills with each other. During the process, they discovered that they were both coaches for their sons’ soccer teams. Oh, all of a sudden, these guys were best friends! They talked about soccer and shared plays with each other. They even ended up scouting out the competition for one another’s teams. And guess what happened? These guys had known each other for a year but never did business with each other. Within three months of the GAINSexercise, they were passing quality referrals to each other. The change happened because they found out they were both soccer coaches and that game connected. That connection built trust, which turned into business.

Connecting over a nonbusiness interest endears you to the other person. Now you’re not just some salesperson to them—you’re a friend.

I know a businesswoman named Laura who has always wanted to travel to Greece. One of her networking connections found out in conversation about her dream to go to Greece someday. This person went out and bought Laura two simple things as a “thank you” for something she did: a calendar of beautiful places in Greece and a coffee-table book about Greece. They were fast friends after that! Because of the business associate’s thoughtfulness, that connection deepened because she gave Laura tangible proof of her recognition and support of her goal. You pay a compliment to people when you show that you understand what’s important to them. Make it an aim of yours to learn at least one goal or personal interest someone has outside of their business.

 

Called the "father of modern networking" by CNN, Dr. Ivan Misner is a New York Times bestselling author.  He is the Founder of BNI, the world's largest business networking organization.  His newest book, on networking and behavioral styles can be viewed at www.IvanMisner.com.  Dr. Misner is also the Sr. Partner for the Referral Institute, an international referral training company.

 

Trending

272
misner's picture

Dude, Where are my Wheels? Why Networking Helps – Even in the “Hood”

I recently visited Los Angeles and drove through an area that I grew up around.  I was regaling my wife with a story about a job I had in a pretty tough neighborhood when I was in college.  At the end of the story she said, “you have to
302
Harvey Mackay's picture

Resourcefulness = “Of Coursefulness”

A firm needed a researcher. Applicants were a scientist, an engineer and an economist. Each was given a stone, a piece of string and a stopwatch and told to determine a certain building’s height. The scientist went to the rooftop, tied the stone to
349
johnsullivan's picture

Sourcing Is the New Recruiting

I have some excellent news for you. Sourcing is the place to be in talent acquisition today! Recruiting as it has traditionally been known is going away. Increasingly companies are adopting recruitment process automation, and that means that there
398
harvardbusinessreview's picture

How to Prepare for a Panel

Make sure to connect with the moderator beforehand.
375
johnsullivan's picture

HR Roundtable: The Value of a Multi-Generational Workforce

In the classic rock anthem My Generation by The Who, lead singer Roger Daltrey screams, “I hope I die before I get old.” He echoed a sentiment of the times, but he never knew that he was also doing what...
406
adamgrant's picture

Why Women Volunteer for Tasks That Don’t Lead to Promotions

Here’s a work scenario many of us know too well: You are in a meeting and your manager brings up a project that needs to be assigned. It’s not particularly challenging work, but it’s time-consuming, unlikely to drive revenue, and probably won’t be
386
johnsullivan's picture

How Personas Change Sourcing Outcomes

It’s really intimidating to walk into a room full of people you don’t know. We’ve all had that moment of panic, scanning the room for any semi-familiar face and praying it’ll work. Just one person. I personally hate that feeling....
506
misner's picture

Body Language When Networking

Body language can be a powerful attractant or deterrent when it comes to building relationships with others. People assess you visually within the first fewminutes of meeting you.  I’ve been asked a lot about body language by the media over the
400
adamgrant's picture

This 4-Day Work Week Experiment Went So Well, the Company is Keeping It

A first-of-its-kind four-day work week experiment in New Zealand has come to an end after two months, but the trial went so well the company actually wants to make the changes permanent.While lots of research has shown the numerous benefits a