“You can have everything in life, if you will just help enough other people get what they want” – Zig Ziglar
How to build your network of net worth?
In the tumultuous and ever-changing landscape called the economy, the most important factor required to thrive and actually succeed is a network. Building a network and maintaining it for times to come is a skill worth more than its weight in gold. But for a generation of hustlers, we are very ignorant about the how’s and why’s of building a network.
The biggest misconception that people have about networking is that it is mainly about searching for a person who is/will be beneficial to us. But networking is more about meeting and connecting with people, actually investing time and money in building meaningful relationships with them. It’s about connecting the dots and building a database of people, their ideas and resources and making sure that it results in the achievement of goals of all people involved.
It’s less about what people have to offer and more about what you can do to build value and help them reach their goals. Networking is not as simple as having someone’s phone number in your phone’s contact list; it’s about how much time and effort the both of you are putting into this network in order to reach a certain objective that collectively benefits all.
In the context of building a business or a career, strong networking skills can be the difference between success and complete failure. Networking if done properly and sustainably can bring about the best results imaginable.
Businesses and Careers are built on the foundation of networks; it is the secret ingredient behind large conglomerates and the most spectacular careers. Having a network will help you sell and provide you with the demographic of people as the audience with whom to market your products.
Even in the case of start-ups, where the success is determined initially by who and how many people believe in your idea and are ready to put their time, energy and money into it, having a set of people who believe in your vision can be a source of comfort and motivation.
Networking gives us a space to understand different mentalities and gives us an opportunity to accumulate a store of life experiences and stories. This is crucial in order to understand diversity in terms of people coming from different socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds with different upbringings and have even more different upbringings. This helps us to create more inclusive work spaces and helps in building the organizational skills required for the navigation of our careers.
Even when the purpose is not building wealth, networking skills can be a boon. In anthropology, a fact remains that humans have always been of herd mentality. In the age of the hunter-gatherers, the people who went into isolation couldn’t always feed themselves or were ineffective at protecting themselves, resulting in them exiting the gene pool. We are the descendants of those people who chose to stay in groups and went on to build civilizations.
Inherited genetics is the reason the quote, “No man is an island” is true. We crave attention, gratification and validation from fellow humans. So as humans our well-being is mostly in connecting with people and building a network of people who support our endeavors and want us to succeed, at the same time emotional maturity comes from being a part of something much bigger than ourselves and actually helping others.
The most unanimously agreed component in building a network is a person’s communication skills. It could make or break a network. The quantity, quality and vocabulary of the words used are the most crucial in building a network. Talking increases reliability, connecting verbally with a person will strengthen your bonds with them. The resulting effect is that we accumulate knowledge which will help us to shape the world around us and help us to build a perspective about the larger picture.
Oftentimes, we gauge a person’s character by how good they are with their words, and how good of a communicator they are. The trust between humans is often a product of how honest they seem with their words. Human instinct is very accurate when it comes to the trustworthiness metric, if you are genuine personality wise, it becomes apparent in the way you speak and approach a situation, and if you aren’t that much honest, no matter how sweet you are with your words, the fraud will show.
How to build your network by starting to talk?
In today’s competition centric world, being good with your words is a survival skill. We talk to sell, we talk to build a network, and we talk to convince and influence people in their decisions as well. The most successful salesmen with the largest clout in their portfolios are the ones that can market their products and sell them with ruthlessness the intensity of a thousand raging suns, but with the calm and diplomacy of a quiet moonlit night. Their words are their only capital and everything else is merely ancillary, even the product they are selling.
The greatest leaders in history have gathered their followers by speaking their mind out and influencing people with it. We remember them by their communication skills and their ability to lead people towards a change. Martin Luther King brought about a revolution with his world-famous speeches. It is important to mention that Hitler was also famous for spreading propaganda and lies through his speeches.
What we understand from this is that we can, with enough skill and expertise, begin to influence people and their decisions with words and talking. The media also is a good example of how people’s decisions are dependent on not only the data presented to them but also by how the data is presented. Ideas presented by journalists can be so impactful that it can switch over elections in favor of even the weakest party.
In order to build communities of people who share the same issues as you and have the same vision as yourself, it is imperative that we break the silence and take the first step towards putting such people and resources together and organize them into a network of ideas that will help you to reach a goal. You can network with your words to create a change in your own community; it is one step towards being an active citizen instead of just waiting around for someone else to start.
We need to understand the importance words can have over others, how much we as humans are affected by the information we consume and the way in which we react to such information. Words are malleable; we can bend them in whichever way we wish to. This is the greatest skill we can master in order to influence people towards a positive change. We can build empires with the networks we create by talking and connecting with people and understanding their perspective on things. We need to push ourselves a little out in the open and talk to as many people as possible as this could be the difference between whether we achieve our ambitions and goals.
But as easy as this is to put on paper, it is very difficult or rather there is a perceived difficulty around talking and building networks. The most important of them are listed as below
We all come from different families with extremely different combinations of socioeconomic and cultural diversity. The place we have in our families, and how we were raised play a major role on how good our communication skills are. It also affects what we perceive as a comfort zone and how insecure we are outside it. We also might have been raised to think that some qualities are desirable and others undesirable in a personality, and we might be a little too attached to our perceptions of how we should be. This acts as a barrier in our abilities to communicate effectively with other people.
- Social Anxiety
This might include any similar diagnoses that may hamper our ability to communicate or voice our thoughts. As much as we’d like it, the world is not a neurotypical place; there are all kinds of people with all kinds of brain structures. Some people are more vulnerable to the brain’s logical fallacies than others. This automatically puts them at a disadvantage in relation to others. The mere thought of giving a voice to their thoughts can cause them mental and emotional distress.
- Low Self Image and Self Esteem
This is in relation to the first point already mentioned; our upbringings and life experiences may sometimes leave us worse for wear. Even continuous exposure to stressful situations and having relationships with people with narcissistic tendencies can affect how we perceive ourselves. If we suffer from low esteem and have a low/negative self-image, it may cause us to project our insecurities onto the person we try to communicate with. This is ineffective communication, and we cannot try to build any meaningful relationships with anyone when we are ourselves fighting with who we are and what our worth is.
- Cognitive Biases
They are simply annoying features of the brain which trick us into thinking illogical thoughts. It could make us believe that things exist even if there is no concrete proof of their existence. For example, the small pronunciation mistakes that slipped out your tongue or that pimple on your nose may seem like a huge embarrassment to you, but in reality nobody notices it because they are too caught up in their own lives. This is also known as the spotlight effect.
We might see a small deviation of the events from our plans, and we might think of the worst possible ending to it, when it was not that big of a deal. This is called catastrophizing. There are a lot in the similar sense and all of them are just clever ministrations of our brains, but they might prove to be obstacles in the networking and communicating, if we are not careful about them.
- Lack of Knowledge
Not all of us are born communicators; we falter and fail at convincing another person. Talking to a stranger or selling/marketing a product might seem like a lost cause. We might not know the nuances of social interactions and may have suboptimal interpersonal skills. We might react too harshly or not effectively enough at certain situations, or we might be not as expressive as is socially acceptable. These can be barriers to effective communication, but only if we let it.
- Difficulty in being diplomatic and assertive
Some of us may lack interpersonal skills, but some of us in an attempt to be effective communicators might overdo the whole understanding of social nuances and might end up passively listening to the other person’s talk without being able to actively participate and articulate our own thoughts. Difficulty in being diplomatic enough and actually asserting your position and opinions without hurting the person in front of us can prove to be quite a task. This is key to building a network of like-minded people and maintaining that network to be as goal oriented as possible.
- Accepting Diversity
Some of us come from backgrounds that have a homogenous group of people and/or we might have grown up in an environment where stereotyping is widely prevalent. These things rub onto us, and we might become too narrow-minded understanding those outside of your socioeconomic cultural circle.
There might be a disruption in building a network if you don’t communicate or communicate insensitively with a set of people because you have certain assumptions about them which may be outdated/ not true. This can cause discontent and may even lead to some people getting offended by the lack of social awareness and inclusivity. This can cause us to lose some potential connections, resources and opportunities to help someone.
- Not knowing where to start
Even after accumulating the skill sets required to build your network, it may prove to be difficult to find new people. Sure there are a lot of fishes in the sea, but none of them talk to me! This might be because we have a very small social circle, or our jobs don’t involve meeting new people or maybe it’s because we shifted into a new city, and we know nobody there.
There also might be hesitation in talking to complete strangers and understandably so. This can prove to be a barrier in effectively building a network.
We could keep this list going and count out all the reasons why we cannot build a network. We could give up now. Or, we could try to solve these issues by tackling them one by one. The most apparent solution would be to tackle all of them headlong, but the most logical solution would be to take a step back and analyze what the issues are, and do a little digging to understand why we’re facing these issues and then structurally define it, so we can solve it once and for all. This takes a lot of painstaking effort, patience and simultaneously a lot of time. But the resultant benefits will be worth it. So let’s tackle them, structurally.
- Understand (I cannot stress this point enough!!)Where your position is relative to your self-esteem, confidence and body positivity. Try to own your flaws as much as possible. Try to understand that regardless of how harshly that inner voice criticizes you, you deserve respect and happiness. If you feel like your symptoms are severe and you are unable to help yourself, it is always advisable to see a therapist and prioritize your mental health over everything else.
- Communication and Networking are acquired skills. We can practice it in order to get better at it. We can observe how others do it, and learn to do it in our own style with as much sincerity as possible. Initially, we might make as many mistakes as attempts, but as time passes, and we learn and gather experience, we will surely become better at it. As we become better at it, we start building our network.
- It is important to note that, there will always be botched social interactions to build your network, people who do not like you regardless of what you do and some messy arguments. Do not ruminate over them for long, forget the mistake, remember the lesson and try to move on. Fixating on your mistakes alone can make you develop negativity and dejection, both of these are unnecessary in the process of learning a new skill.
- Remember the rule, Comprehend, Convey, and Convince. The first step is to understand the other person’s motive of engaging in conversation with you. Comprehend their expectations from you correctly. Then make sure you convey your expectations and viewpoints to them in a gentle but firm manner. Then convince them to follow the path that is beneficial to both of you and fulfill their expectations from you and vice versa.
This is key while trying to sell a product/ market your own idea. Unless there is something to be received by both ends, there will not be any move from any end. Sounds extremely ruthless, but in the corporate world this is true.
- Consider all your networking efforts and communications the same as your normal conversations. This takes the pressure off your shoulders that you should behave a certain way. This may make people get comfortable with you sooner and trust you more. Also, this releases any awkward situations and silences.
- But recognise when formal and professional behavior is expected of you. There might be situations where you might need to follow a certain protocol, it might be more beneficial to follow them at the required situations
- Learn to trust your instincts. When you walk into a room, trust your gut while reading the mood of the room. When you talk to someone, and they make you feel uncomfortable, it is okay to take a break and reconsider. If your instincts don’t trust a person, learn to be wary.
- Remember that they are also humans. They probably function with the same emotional circuit as you and chances are they might be worse off. Be compassionate with them if you see them struggling, and also understand that as humans we are not built to be perfect, so mistakes are alright.
- Take time to understand and gain knowledge about the socioeconomic and cultural diversity in your area/ social circle. Understand your privilege and actively try to break the stereotypes in your head. Try to get some perspective on any gender biases that you may have and try to unlearn them as well.
Understand that they are a result of your social conditioning and that unlearning them can be tedious and a painstaking task. Try to accept that people have different mentalities and different opinions and that whether you agree with them, they are entitled to their opinions and hence deserve your respect.
- Refrain from taking everything personally and recognize the triggers that make you feel defensive. We all have certain things that make us want to lash out and curl into a ball at the same time. But, these can hamper social interactions and resultantly our networking skills, so be aware and mindful of your flaws and try to work on them to build your network.
- Be genuine and smile when the occasion demands it. People can sense it when you are being fake. Take sincere efforts in building your relationships to build your network and connections and results will follow.
But the most important thing to do is to be willing to learn new things and then take responsibility for our own success. Networking and Communication are two parts of the same coin; you can’t have one without the other. The barriers we face in building a network can affect the amount of success we achieve, whether professionally or in personal life.
We must step out of our comfort zones and break our silence. We can build networks, communities and slowly maybe one person at a time; create a change in our world. The goal at the end of the day is to make the world a better place and it is best we start doing it ourselves rather than wait around.