Many years ago when I first left the army to become a financial consultant with Merrill Lynch, I read Harvey Mackay’s book, Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty. It was a book about the importance of building a powerful network of contacts before you need them.
A recent example of why you want to build your network before you need it, my boiler broke a couple of days ago. Who do I call? Some random name out of the yellow pages? Or maybe do a Google search. Well if I had cultivated a great network, I would be able to turn to my Roledex (old school speak for contact database), and look up a good plumber, someone I know will do a great job and I can trust. And who, if they are fully booked, will still “squeeze” me in regardless!
Now I have to admit, I’ve been naughty. Since coming to the UK, I let my network dry up, which it will do if you don’t cultivate it and keep it fresh. I have 1, 041 contacts in my Roledex, but I’d bet only about 1/4 of those are strong connections, i.e. if I called the person up, would I be able to ask for what I want, and they would do everything in their power to try to help me get it? Or would I have to spend time trying to rebuild rapport and figuring out what they have been up to in the “years” we haven’t been in touch?
When I was a financial consultant for Merrill Lynch, I had a massive network, one that put me in a position to be a great connector because, after all, that is what networking is truly about – making connections so that you can connect people in your network with each other. It kind of goes back to the old Zig Ziglar quote, “You can have everything in life you want, if you help enough other people get what they want.”
But because I let my physical network fall into disrepair, I have no immediate plumber to call. Luckily, I do have enough of a network to call a friend and ask them if they have a plumber they know and trust in their network. If you haven’t read Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty It’s well worth a read. The subtitle of the book is “the last networking book you will ever need.”
OK. I’ve said all of that to say, I’ve made it one of my goals for 2014 to rebuild my physical network – people with whom I have met eyeball to eyeball and I know what they want and they know what I want and we have a shared goal of helping each other out.
To that end, I have joined a networking group called 4Networking. I like 4N because they have the right ethos of 50% business, 50% social. The meetings I’ve been to have been relaxed, engaging, and helpful in terms of meeting new people with whom to build a connected relationship of mutual benefit.
If you’re in the UK, check them out. In the spirit of full disclosure, the link I’ve provided you below is an affiliate link because yes, if you did decide to join, I’d get free days added to my membership. But trust is everything to me, and I wouldn’t recommend them if I didn’t believe it was good.
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Oh and here’s a quirky little video the 4N Warwickshire group have put together.