How To Use Strategic Insights To Accelerate Your Business Growth
People often come to me to talk about networking. I tell them that, when it comes down to it, networking is the reason that some individuals succeed in business where others fail. Your network is the spider web of connections that holds your company in good standing, and improves your own outcomes well into the future.
If you want more profits, that is to say more sales, networking can help you to get there, but this isn’t just a matter of More is Better. One of the biggest problems faced in marketing is not being able to see the way forward. Of course, we can all see the goal that we want to achieve, the end game as such. We all want more clients, more business opportunities, higher profits. Unfortunately, the road to reaching those goals is full of darkness and potholes called ‘unknowns’. We can’t see the steps on the road!
While we might not be able to see the steps, we know the general direction we need to travel. We know that we need to undertake actions to achieve our goals, but finding the right actions (and being consistent) is the key to success. Some individuals find that even when they start taking actions, and those actions are consistent, they still aren’t getting anywhere.
Why is that?
It comes down to lacking strategy! Initiating action without a clear strategy is what we in the marketing world call the ‘Spray and Pray’. When you’re spraying and praying, you’re inconsistently applying actions, or applying them with no real notion of how they benefit your long-term goals. This is not the way to move forward. Instead, think of your success using the following equation:
A Clear Strategy + The Right Actions x Consistency = Sales (- Procrastination)
Looks a little complicated? Don’t worry! I can help you to see the steps more clearly, using a process that I call Strategic Insight. Understanding Strategic Insight is about really comprehending that getting more clients and higher profits is not just about doing more networking, but rather having a clarity of insight about achieving a specific end goal.
Networking With Strategic Insight
Most business people will have attended a networking event at some point to seek new clients or connections. This is recognised as being a fairly common networking tool, but what if I told you it actually isn’t as effective as you’ve been told? Networking at events in this manner is, essentially, a spray and pray approach. It is time consuming and requires a lot of hard work from you, but it actually doesn’t achieve great results.
When people think about their networks, they often look very cluttered. You are in the middle, and surrounding you are your connections, but the imaginary lines that connect you all are squiggly, cluttered and random. Basically, it’s hard to see who leads to who. When I talk about It’s Not How, It’s WHO, what I’m really talking about is approaching networking in a totally different way, so that instead of what looks two-year-old’s scribbled drawing your network looks like a regimented spider web. You can see clearly how people are connected to you and each other, and you can see and know what to do to utilise your network in the most effective way.
Changing how you think about networking is not as hard as it might seem. For one thing, you don’t need to go out and do more networking. The fact is, more than 80% of business already is in your existing network, currently untapped. You can make a start on overhauling your approach to networking by thinking about the resources that you already have in your own network, and adjusting your perspective to utilise them fully.
How Do I Do That? ….Know 3 Types of People
Ok, let me tell you about the three kinds of people that make up your existing network. These people are Finders, who help you find people, Advisers, who help you to grow, and Influencers, who help to open doors for you and your business. Everyone’s network is made up of these three types of people, so what you need to do is figure out who is who. Asking these three questions will help you to do so:
Who do I know that can help me find people?
These are people with extensive networks of other well-connected people, who are willing to work with you to find the people that you’re looking for. Think of them like a repeating extension of your network, giving you more professional reach to achieve!
Who do I know that can help me grow?
These are the people who have been there before. They’ve come up against the challenges that you’re currently facing, and they’ve conquered those challenges, which means they’re an invaluable resource for you when it comes to advice and insider knowledge.
Who do I know that can open doors for me?
These are people who provide a gateway into new leads or new groups of people that represent new markets and sales opportunities. When we exhaust our own networks, it’s necessary to seek new networks, and influencers can help us to achieve that.
Of course, just knowing who fits where in your network isn’t enough. You also need to know what you need. This is what I would call the Criteria. Your Criteria directs you as you move through your network, allowing you to ask those three questions in a more targeted way. (here’s an extreme example of mine) So, if you’re looking for a joint venture partner to help build a ski resort in Russia your three Criteria might be:
Must speak and write Russian
Must have experience cutting through the Alps, and
Must have the capacity to put road infrastructure in ice.
With the Criteria, the questions above becomes a lot more targeted. You can truly mine your network by asking ‘Who do I know that can speak and write Russian? Or in my case I asked, firstly “Who do I know in international property or investment?. This Criteria can also be sent out to your network, so they too can apply the concepts of It’s Not How, It’s WHO to their own network, and then you have not only your networking working for you, but theirs as well.
In my example of the Russian Ski Resort, I sent out 5 emails with the specific criteria to my property & investment connections and within one week and only five introductions we found the perfect joint venture person! Fast & effective.
So, what are you waiting for? Get started on improving your network by applying the New Future of Networking and Strategic Insight. Define clearly who you have in your existing network and figure out which of the three groups they fit into (either Finders, Advisors or Influencers). Next create a strategy that you can be consistent with to improve your networks, sales, starting with asking those three questions.
Believe me, after this you’ll never view networking the same again! Gold sits in your networks, in the form of resources, help and opportunities.