For the introverted, socially awkward, or shyster-averse, networking can be a major challenge. On one hand, we know that effective networking is essential to any flourishing career or business. I have literally witnessed quantum leaps in my business and in others that can be attributed to having strong relationships with the right people. Just this year alone, I’ve developed relationships with international partners, landed significant press, and grown Inspired Life Media Group’s bottom line because of my relationships with the right people.
Because of this, I often get asked about networking. Admittedly, I am a lover of people. I legitimately like to meet new people, learn about them, and stay connected to them. This makes networking easier and more intuitive for me, but it certainly doesn’t mean that networking effectively can’t be learned or practiced.
In a recent episode of Inspired Living with Lisa Nicole Bell, I gave away one of my best secrets for growing my network. An expanding network is usually a good thing, but it’s important to periodically evaluate your network to determine which relationships are deserving of your limited time and energy.
The most important traits for a fruitful relationship will depend on your industry and goals. To get you started, I’m sharing 7 guidelines I use to evaluate business relationships:
- What have they accomplished? What are they currently creating? As an outcome-oriented professional, I examine what a person has accomplished or what the individual is currently building. I work in the media/entertainment, social entrepreneurship, and women’s issues spaces, so I’m especially interested in people who are creating interesting things in those areas. I’m also a total tech groupie, so I get giddy about connecting with those types.
- What is their reach? How many people do they influence? Is this person considered a leader in their field? What are the indicators of leadership for their industry?
- How do they spend their time and money? Nothing tells me more about a person’s value system than a scan of their date book and their check book. Show me how you spend your time and money, and I’ll tell you who you are.
- Do they have a positive, progressive attitude? I firmly believe that if you aren’t growing, you’re falling behind. Because of that, I like to keep smart, creative, forward-thinking people around me. Additionally, a positive attitude is a must. I’m as sarcastic as the next person, but cynics and chronic complainers are a definite no-go.
- Are they interested in collaboration? If I see an opportunity to team up, I want to know if they’re at least open to exploring it. Are they interested in achieving greater good with their work or do they just want to shine and take credit? I like to work with people (again, I'm a lover of people), and I know that so much more can be accomplished when smart people put their egos aside in order to accomplish something meaningful.
- Are they responsive? It irks me to wait three weeks for a response to an email barring extenuating circumstances. Some people just aren’t responsive. When I decide to build a relationship, I want to know that my calls and emails will be returned. No matter how awesome, successful or smart someone is, they’re no good to you if they won’t respond when you reach out.
- What is their Work? Work is capitalized to indicate the highest form of work – our life's work. I like to inquire about a person’s lofty ideals and broad vision to gain an understanding of what motivates them and what they’re working toward.
What are your metrics for evaluating relationships? How do you know whether you need to build a relationship, terminate it or leave it be?
Lisa Nicole Bell is equal parts artist, businesswoman and motivator. Lisa is the CEO of Inspired Life Media Group where she and her team meld art, social change, and commerce to create economically viable media properties.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC recently published #FixYoungAmerica: How to Rebuild Our Economy and Put Young Americans Back to Work (for Good), a book of 30+ proven solutions to help end youth unemployment.