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5 Reasons You Should Invest Your Time in Networking

Networking has delivered more return on investment than any other tool in my business. Both financially and in non-monetary terms, my network has delivered so much value that I can not imagine what my situation would be like without it. If there is one thing that I could suggest that would be guaranteed to boost any business, networking would be it.

The problem is, everyone who believes in networking recommends it the same way.

“It works, try it!”.

But how does it deliver value exactly?

Lewis and I are about to run the training class for Shy Networking tomorrow. One of the most surprising questions I have seen over and over during our launch has been people asking how they might benefit.

You see, networking takes time. It is not an instant gratification thing very often. OK, so we have all experienced that chance meeting where everything clicks and we come away with a brilliant, but random contact. That’s not the norm. We are talking about human relationships, and they are not always fast burning things.

People are asking if they should devote time to networking over, say, SEO, blogging or social media.

I have to tell you, being so close to things it took me a while to articulate. It’s like explaining why we need to breathe, drink and eat – my network is like food, but the other tactics are like water and oxygen to my business. It’s not either-or, it’s and. So if you are crunched for time, why should you add networking to your mix?

Of course you wouldn’t be reading this article if I hadn’t managed to give you concrete reasons why you should invest your time in networking, so here they are.

Networking ROI

There are many benefits to networking but you have to remember that we are dealing with people. You have to keep that in mind. Going out with a “what can I get?” attitude is going to sink your efforts before you begin. But, of course you need to know what return you are going to get before you invest, so here is what you can expect:

1. Friendship Benefits

I wanted to start with a benefit that does not necessarily convert to Dollars, Pounds or Euros. Do not overlook the simple benefit of having friends in the business with no strings attached. We need to know someone has our back, that we have people who are there for us. It can be lonely when you work alone, with only a monitor light to keep you company.

Having someone who understands is extremely valuable on a psychological and emotional level. Your friends can chat to keep you motivated and cheery, are a sounding board for ideas, or will listen to you moan when you need it. When Sonia, Jon and I get together on Skype an hour can go by in a flash, I am not always sure if we actually do solve the world’s problems, but those conversations are something I look forward to each week.

When you are in a strange town it is nice to have company even just for meals. Deb NG, Becky McCray and Andy Hayes keep me safe on the mean streets of the USA, help me dodge my diet, and stop my ego getting out of control.

Now I am feeling guilty for not listing all the other people who have kept me company, fed me, or joined me in friendship and conversation over the years. Hopefully you will forgive me for not linking you up this once, I will buy you a drink next time we meet while you tell me what a horrible friend I am. Deal? ๐Ÿ™‚

My point is people need people.

2. Opportunities

Now to contrast with the touch-feely first benefit, here is where the big bang of ROI kicks in. The most significant monetary benefit my network has brought me, and we are talking six figures from just one contact, is the opportunities they expose me to or introduce me to.

If you are not getting enough opportunities, then you need to build your network. Opportunities like joint ventures, client leads, partnerships, speaking and writing gigs, businesses or assets bought and sold … you name it.

All the best opportunities are shared person to person in back channels. Everything from prime domain sales through to employment opportunities. If two people are equally qualified then it goes to who you know, like and trust. A lot of the time even when the person you like is less qualified. Getting passed over for plum gigs? This is why.

This one networking benefit alone has to be worth an astronomical amount.

There are two problems that stop people thinking of this benefit, though:

  1. People do not give credit to their network when opportunities arise. They either think “Of course I got this opportunity, I am awesome” or they think they were just lucky.
  2. Bad networking leads to a lack of opportunity, and can actually damage your ability to attract the best opportunities. It is better for nobody to know who you are, rather than be known as a jerk. Sorry, it is a simple truth.

3. Advice

We all like to give friends advice, and sometimes they even ask for it!

There are some things The Google can’t tell you. If I had gotten all the free advice I have received over the years from paid consultants then … well, I would have a massive deficit in my bank account or wouldn’t be writing this to you now.

We rely on our networks to advise us and keep us on track, and we give back to our networks in return. Give a lot and you have credit in the bank when you need to make a withdrawal. The better your network the more knowledge you can tap into.

Just in the world of SEO, people like Aaron Wall, Dave Naylor, Doug Scott, Jason Duke, Michael Gray, Rae Hoffman, Joost DeValk, a certain Google employee, and numerous others have given me golden tips over the years. They have kept me from making dumb moves, and have put me right when I have been confused (ok, that happens more times than I like to admit). When people confuse me with being a search engine expert I tell them I am not but I know plenty who are the real deal. It would be impossible to get this much expertise on the payroll, the only way to have contact with this much awesome is to try to be worthy of their friendship.

There are informal advice channels like those, and there are formal arrangements such as consulting swaps or masterminds. I am doing a consulting swap with a self development expert, he is fixing my brain and I am helping him with online marketing. Masterminds are where a group of people with common goals and values get together to push, encourage and advise each other.

If you only get occasional advice from your network then you are in significant net profit from your efforts.

4. Assistance

Someone once told me the definition of a friend is someone who will help you move house with no notice and no expectation of payment. I’m not sure about that but I think mutual help is definitely part of the definition, and one of the ways you can benefit from networking. Not the house thing, the helping part.

  • Promotion – Giving you a boost in traffic, reputation, or sales
  • Community – Helping you build conversation and community
  • Links – Links in terms of Google juice, or sharing news and info from their networks
  • Introductions – Connecting you to people you would like to meet or who they think are awesome
  • Getting you out of a hole – Fixing dodgy code, giving you a heads up when you goof, or having your back when someone attacks

5. Positive Influence

You become who you associate with. This works in the negative, as any parent will have thought about while considering who their kids friends are or will be. It also works in the positive, if you surround yourself with the right people then the attitudes, habits, world view, and associations will rub off.

Apparently there is some scientific basis for this, but I have seen it enough in my own life to know it is true. I grew up in a place where success and wealth were considered wrong. If you had nice things then you must be a bad person. You can see all around you what that does to a community. So I gravitated towards people with a more positive mindset, who shared my goals and values. If nothing else I am happier for having motivating influences rather than depressing ones.

Modeling successful people is a proven way to improve your own performance, what better than to be able to model people up close and personal?

The tribe you select will have a profound impact on your work and life, so choose well.

Summary

One of the worries with an article like this is that people will focus on the “bragging” or “name dropping” rather than on the message. Thank you in advance for pointing out what a jerk I am, and you are welcome ๐Ÿ™‚

The fact is I owe a great deal to my friends, contacts and extended network. If you get anything out of this article I want you to understand that every single new friend or contact you make is worth their weight in gold.

There is a danger that some people will take from this that they should go out with a gimme gimme frame of mind. That’s not what I am talking about. My hope is that you will see that while the impact might not be immediate, the compound effects of networking are significant and long lasting.

Want to know how you can get all these benefits and more?

You can sign up for Shy Networking now, get 90mins video, action guides and bonuses (to be revealed) all for a single payment of $67 if you get in now. Even the live calls are recorded and posted in the member area with no time limits, so don’t worry if you can’t make anything live, or miss something. The price goes up again after the Q&A, so get in now for the best price.

We look forward to seeing you in the Shy Networking training – Go ahead and sign up right now!

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Comments

  1. Couldn't agree more!

    Especially agree with the first point, as somebody who is just exploring a new city (Manchester), It's been great that previous networking before I arrived meant I already have at least two nights out a month ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. I think networking is very important especially when we have business, networking useful to build our business and develop it

  3. chrisgarrett says:

    Good stuff ๐Ÿ™‚ Manchester is a great place if you have peole to meet, not so nice on your own ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Agree with point 2 and 3. Network always important

  5. greggswanson says:

    Hi Chris – Coming from 20+ years in sales networking is critical to success. Not only are the points you made right on, thereโ€™s the โ€œsix degrees of separationโ€ rule that comes into play. What we put or intention and attention on tends to grow. Iโ€™ve found that when I โ€œtriedโ€ networking I didnโ€™t get the results I wanted. When I changed my perspective and looked at for the long haulโ€ฆwell things changed. Thanks for the great tips!

  6. Chris – I'm reading “Referral Engine” by @DuctTape. He also talks about how giving references is in our DNA – our survival depends upon it. If I know of a good fishing hole, I'll share that with you because you know where all the best places are to plant apple trees. And I may need to plant more apple trees this fall (do you plant those in the fall?)

  7. Hey Chris,

    Networking is the bane to my existence, a necessary evil. Don't get me wrong, you are completely correct and I force myself to network daily, and I even like meeting people. However, I find it difficult when the process becomes about carving out a block of time to make new friends online: Twitter, Facebook, Stumble Upon, etc. Creating a mostly forced interaction. I get how important it is and I have seen results. Still, it is a lot of work with little return on my time invested.

  8. Hi Chris,
    Way back in history, April 2009, to be exact, I started blogging. I wasn't getting any visits. Honestly, I didn't know what I was doing.

    It wasn't until recently that I started networking with other bloggers in my niche. Within 2 weeks my visitors activity map started showing red flags from all over the world. I visit them, they visit me. It's a beautiful thing.

    Great article!

  9. I agree, creating connections (real ones, not fake spammy connections) is so important. Plus it makes business more fun.

    I'm really glad you created the Shy Networking thing, I think a lot of people will get good value from it.

  10. Super Duper Chris!

    I am one of those people that you mentioned up there, I help people fix their “brains” and one of the most important things for humans is know who and what is around them, that there is someone there to “watch the back” when times get tough and the absolute need for social engagement – when babies growing up don't have a proper “network” to support them, they don't develop properly, their immune systems suffer and they don't grow up quite the same – this explains why a lot of kids these days have all sorts of allergies and disorders, it can be traced back, largely to this lack of social engagement by caretakers. Recently I saw Malcolm Gladwell speak and he spoke of revolutions and what it take for one to happen – the number one factor along with passion and belief for a specific cause, is whether or not you have a friend who will show up alongside of you day by day, week by week and year by year.
    Thanks again! Irene.

  11. Thanks for this great Chris. I like the pharse – 'every single new friend or contact you make is worth their weight in gold'. So meaningful..

  12. Sally_Neill says:

    Hi Chris, I am actually going to summit tomorrow in London so I hope to get all five of the benefits you have shared.

    I am really looking forward to it, always nice to meet new people interested in the crazy internet marketing world.

    Sally ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Chris – this is a timely post for me, as I am now exploring social media, networking, etc – it takes so much time and was tedious at first. I am actually enjoying it now, plus reaping some monetary benefits.

  14. Sonia,

    That phrase “makes business more fun” really caught my attention. The network we build around us is now transforming into a more socially engaged network. It definitely represents fun because we share so much more with our network on a personal level (through pictures, video and status updating).

    I can't imagine how the business networking world must have been before the interactivity of online social networking.

  15. So true. I wonder what kind of networking ROI people like Jason Calacanis get from being known as a jerk. i mean beyond the obvious link bait results. In the long run this must be a pain in the back.

  16. Actually, you would be surprised to see how few people who have met or spent time with me actually think I'm jerk. Most of the folks who spread this “Calacanis is a jerk” thing have never spent any time with me and are buying into an image fostered by the bizarre nature of web celebrity.

    I'm actually more of a blunt, outspoken guy with a sense of humor…. that's a little too complicated of a personality for the web celebrity machine to process.

    best j

  17. Madmike133 says:

    Tis a great idea and certianly some monetry value in it too:)

  18. I agree. Our network is our tribe and it's how your grow yourself faster — especially if you're part of a strong wolf-pack.

    I just happened to give this advice to somebody I mentor recently on competing in today's competitive world … what helped me stay ahead?
    – working on the right things โ€“ this supports your growth, builds the experience, and fuels your fire
    – working with the right people โ€“ this is a part of the culture โ€“ whoโ€™s hired, whoโ€™s rewarded, what type of caliber team — and this is your force multiplier and your strongest growth
    – making the right impact โ€“ again, it fuels the fire, but it builds the credibility

  19. A very timely post for me. I think I need to invest 'more' time in networking. Not just I will earn money but also new friends and connections. ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. Networking is not something that I would be that comfortable with..I guess it suits some personalities better than others.

  21. As the world goes global, it seems that the messenger is becoming ever so much more important than the message. That alone is an excellent reason to build a strong, powerful, extensive network. It’s getting less and less about simply having a voice; more and more about being able to even make a living at all.

    For those much less than shy (e.g., I’m not shy, at all) and much more than simply uninterested, building a network is a profoundly difficult task. But necessary. So, I’m off to the xobni.com lunch meeting in a couple of hours, along with a couple hundred others.

  22. Chris, just wanted to say how helpful the Shy Networking class and materials have been. The LinkedIn material alone was worth the price of admission, and I've been putting all the info to good use. Thanks.

    Peter

  23. I totally agree about networking, it's served me well. And the great way to network is playing poker ๐Ÿ™‚

  24. And you reply to emails sometimes too, which is cool as shit considering a fair number of people with little to no mojo at all can't be bothered.

    git some.

  25. I don't consider myself better (or worse) than anyone else…. I just have a big megaphone with my twitter and email lists (and podcast I guess).

    I'm left with two choices: be myself with a megaphone or throttle myself because people have OPTed to give me a megaphone. I'm obligated to do the later…. if people want to ignore me then my megaphone goes away. game over.

    long and short of it: i earned my megaphone… and i only keep it if i keeps it real.

  26. Devin, you and me both. I don't consider myself shy. I would just rather be surfing an empty break.

  27. chrisgarrett says:

    I would love to play poker on a regular basis but I just can not grok the rules, and people tend to take advantage of that ๐Ÿ˜‰

  28. chrisgarrett says:

    Glad to hear it, Lewis will be particularly pleased as the LinkedIn material is his baby ๐Ÿ™‚

  29. chrisgarrett says:

    That is why we put Shy Networking together, because I think if you do not network you are missing out

  30. chrisgarrett says:

    The friendship and support is worth far more than the (significant) financial side ๐Ÿ™‚

  31. chrisgarrett says:

    Great stuff, completely agree ๐Ÿ™‚

    As my business transitions I can look back and see some of the key decisions that have driven it and right things, right people, right impact are very much the ingredients ๐Ÿ™‚

  32. chrisgarrett says:

    indeed ๐Ÿ™‚

  33. chrisgarrett says:

    Jason, there are people who think even I am a jerk (and I am 100% awesome) so I choose to give other people the benefit of the doubt ๐Ÿ™‚

  34. chrisgarrett says:

    As Chris Brogan says, use an egg timer – get the benefits without going into the time suck zone ๐Ÿ™‚

  35. chrisgarrett says:

    Hope your networking event went well and you got your benefits!

  36. chrisgarrett says:

    And I mean it ๐Ÿ™‚

  37. lol I can help you with rules.. but it's all the odds that make it far more complicated.

  38. chrisgarrett says:

    “whether or not you have a friend who will show up alongside of you day by day, week by week and year by year.”

    Yup, and I think the real test of a friend is not that they are around your home every day or week but that they stick with you through thick and thin. Unfortunately it is only when put to the test we discover that.

  39. chrisgarrett says:

    It was possible to have fun connections before online networking but less easy at networking events because of all the business card ninjas trying to sell you something ๐Ÿ™‚

  40. chrisgarrett says:

    Thanks, I hope so ๐Ÿ™‚

  41. chrisgarrett says:

    It is very difficult to make progress as a blogger without a network because blogs are interdependent – attention is like energy, it is neither created nor destroyed, only stored and transferred!

  42. chrisgarrett says:

    But Dave you are very much on my radar so you must have done a touch of networking ๐Ÿ˜‰

  43. chrisgarrett says:

    Ooh, one for my iBooks shopping cart ๐Ÿ˜€

  44. chrisgarrett says:

    Oh yes, I think when people are grasping and on the take then it is hardly surprising that they don't get much traction, but in the famed words of Bill & Ted, if we are “excellent” to each other then good things happen ๐Ÿ™‚

  45. You have to be selective about which networking groups you go to. I've tried several which didn't suit me – it's a matter of trial and error. The informal, fun ones where a bunch of business connections meet up are best. eg: wine and chat at someone's flat; cakeworking where 10 of us networked over scones jam and cream in a Kensington hotel etc. I've made some great connections through face to face networking and have also won quite a bit of business from it.

  46. chrisgarrett says:

    Good point, I always say you have to match values, find people who suit. Not everyone is a good match. Plus the venue and context is important also – I try to avoid the “elevator pitch” style networking events, I don't go places to be sold to but to meet people.

  47. chrisgarrett says:

    Hope your lunch went well ๐Ÿ™‚

  48. chrisgarrett says:

    Poker requires math? Ohnoes, that means I am doomed!

  49. I know.. I hate numbers too!

  50. Isn't the iPad cool? Kinda useless, but cool.

  51. chrisgarrett says:

    I thought so too until I worked out I have some very specific uses for it, so not useless for me but I wouldn't necessarily recommend it to just anyone else. Any web developers would be silly not to have one though for testing alone.

  52. I use it for on-site client meetings, reading and writing blog posts.

  53. Great post Chris. Just subscribed to your email list and very much enjoyed not just the ideas you discuss but also the tone in which you discuss them.

    I particularly agree with and was happy to see your first point, the benefit of friends through networking. This is so often forgotten and its effects underrated. A selection of people, who become friends, that are in or have been in the same boat as you is vital when you're running your own show.

    Thanks and keep up the great work

    @AlMcBride

  54. The power of networking is huge. I don't think many people make it being a loner in business.

  55. It was excellent. I connected two colleagues with each other, and caught up with another with whom I am having lunch next week. Her startup is in chaos mode, perfect working conditions for me.

    xobni.com has some very cool technology, should be coming to an email client near you very shortly.

  56. I throttle it, hard. I haven't earned my megaphone yet.

  57. Chris, thanks. I have done a touch of networking! Haven't done much surfing lately… bummah.

  58. You keep me grounded as well, Chris. I can't say enough good things about networking – both online and face to face. I don't know if I could have gotten by without a little help from my friends.

  59. I think the use of cell phones like Iphone to access the Web is a bigger factor in connecting the Internet to a local geographical community than the World Wide Web has been.