In the last few years, I have been delivering a lot of speaking sessions to a variety of sets of audiences ranging from a placement-ready MBA batch to a cohort of tech entrepreneurs to a visiting batch of global executives. Each had a different agenda ranging from personal leadership to business strategy for scaling to case analysis of an M&A deal, and yet I continued to detect the underlying pattern of being heavily influenced by opinions. Do I truly believe that a network building enthusiast can keep out all noise without becoming a narcissistic individual? Of course not! But I shall again emphasise that it is imperative that you only listen to the voices that matter on the particular topic in consideration; and do so mindfully.
Staying mindful and focussed on building your network amidst the numerous distractions can often be a tough ask. Understanding how to build the right network from scratch can seem scary, but it is this fear and excitement that should actually fuel your dream. While a never-ending work hour on developing an idea is exciting, actually building a network that can support your goals can be quite nerve-wracking. Identifying valuable advice from random noise is the trick you need to stay focussed and move forward.
Here’s a glimpse of some networking strategies to help you get going!
Block out the naysayers
For anyone pursuing a route other than the ‘expected family business’ or a traditional job, managing the noise levels around while network building is going to be paramount. Questions and comments like, “Why do you want to struggle when you are getting everything?”, and “This is fine for now but not a viable career option!” are sure to make their way to you. Be mindful of valuable advice from those vested in you to enhance your learning but learning to block these naysayers is something I cannot emphasize enough it seems! Building your business or career needs all your focus and energy, don’t let them drain it out of you.
Success is rarely instant
A common expectation is straight overnight success. If you aren’t at the top of your game right out of college, you’re never going to get there. Images and moments of your peers living it up on social media is rarely what it seems. I am often struck by the humility and hard work that successful people consistently put in even when they are at the top of their game. It is a relentless pursuit for that ever elusive perfection in how to build the right network.
Networking doesn't always mean social media
In this era of social media, networking and access to various contacts has never been easier. Using these platforms to interact with like-minded start-ups or corporate peers is great, but when it comes to industry leaders – be careful! Don’t expect your business idol to respond to an important business tip on a casual tweet! Instead, use their official contact details to send a well-crafted professional e-mail and leave the casual greeting for your friends. Remember, networking strategies are key.
Be on time
Time is a valuable currency for you and the person investing in you. I have observed with some sadness how people are still quite disrespectful when it comes to observing time. They arrive late for meetings, meander and talk about every topic under the sun, get into arguments which are absolutely non-value adding and at the end of the day, the person who spent their time investing in you often goes back wondering why ever! If you want to break into the network of successful people, then be mindful of time.
Invest in yourself
Building a network is all about asking people to invest in you, but are you investable yet? Is the arrogance of starting a business and the voice of your own ego taking over or is the determination to succeed still your number one goal? Along with self-belief and confidence, you also need to put in the work and follow-through! If you want to keep growing, then ensure you consistently move up the learning curve by investing in augmenting your knowledge on a regular basis. It doesn’t end when you get your various degrees.
When building a network, the chatter surrounding you is always going to be there, sometimes from external sources, and sometimes your own wisdom and fears. Identifying the voices to pay attention to and letting the rest fade into the background as white noise is critical to stay focussed and not let your mind get bogged down with too many distractions! Mastering how to build the right network is critical.