- What would you say is the main habit that is common to all successful online business owners?
- Is there one thing that if you just applied it would make a massive difference to your own progress?
As an inquisitive student of internet marketing I talk to a lot of people involved in the online business world, friends, gurus, mentors. I’m also a big fan of business biographies and checking out interviews with the experts. In investigating these folks’ strategies, something comes up again and again. The more you look for it, the more it shows up clear as day.
It doesn’t matter who they are, what they do, how they made their profits, or even how they spent them … one approach is fundamental every single time.
From the outside though we get the wrong impression. People try to replicate their success and miss this vital factor, which hampers any progress they would ever make, or worse sets them up for massive failure.
What is this crucial thing?
All the successful online business people I know or have observed have all grown powerful business relationships and networks.
Who you know really is as important as what you know.
You Can’t Make it on Your Own!
Look at some of these people and you think they are entirely self-made, but behind the scenes there are always key contacts … not one of them could have gotten to where they are without someone making a significant impact.
Many actively seek out the person or people who can help them get to the next level: joint ventures, partnerships, teams, mentors, advisors …
Just consider your own projects for a moment. What would it mean to you if you could get advice, links and traffic, launch a joint product, guest articles on top blogs, get into the A-lister inner circle? Think you would make more progress if you had some friends in cool places?
From Richard Branson down to the blogging folks you see launching their latest ebooks, it takes a strong network to make strong progress. You think Richard Branson knows how to run an airline or get tourists into space?
You know why networks come into play during product launches too – we need the traffic and social proof that having multiple people recommend and discuss your product brings! Each one of those big email lists adds many potential buyers.
The downside is anyone with something to offer, be it expertise or a big list, is already going to be inundated with requests. How do you get the attention of the big players?
Build Your Network Now!
You know what they say; “Build your well before you are thirsty”. Get building your network now.
Of course if you need contacts right now then you need to move even faster!
This is all fair enough, but what holds people back?
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There are two key ways that people hamper thier own efforts, and I am going to share both with a little of my story.
As some people have guessed for a while, I am shy and introverted. This used to hold me back a great deal.
I was so nervous talking to people that I couldn’t order a Big Mac without breaking into a panic sweat.
Breaking into the programming geek world was difficult, but bit by bit I managed to grow a decent network almost entirely online. This was before the major social networking sites and services. The benefits were huge. Book deals, traffic, leads, and membership of insiders groups with direct access to top Microsoft employees. I credit my friends in the business for me getting the Microsoft MVP award. This was what made me realise how I had missed out trying to get by on my own merits.
Then I decided to quit and become an internet marketer.
Now I knew I really needed to make some great contacts if I was going to learn much about this business. I started online, using the same techniques and tactics I developed while networking the coder community.
Anyone who has tried to learn the real secrets of things like Search Engine Optimisation, or get support from key contacts at big companies, knows that there is a limit to what you can do via forums, free articles and submitting tickets in contact forms though.
At some point I was going to have to show my face!
My first networking event was a bit traumatic. I felt sick to my stomach, and was visibly shaking. At the time I felt I had done everything wrong. I talked to a few guys who were also quietly propping up the bar in the corner. After not long I felt the nerves were too much and excused myself, feeling like a failure.
I didn’t realize that I had actually got some things right. Far from being a miserable failure, that networking event has brought me some fantastic, priceless contacts and over six figures in revenue, and is still worth a great deal of profit to this day.
My next networking event, without knowing the first was going to pay off, I decided to employ some “tricks of the networking trade” that I had picked up from forums. Those tricks absolutely bombed. None of it suited me and the more I tried to get up the courage to use them, the more nervous I got. You see, these networking tricks only work for certain situations and personality types, if at all. The real nail in the coffin of those approaches was being on the receiving end of them and noticing how sucky an experience that was too!
So, in talking to people, relating my story and finding out I am not alone, it is clear what the biggest self-sabbotaging traits in networking are.
The two big mistakes networkers make are:
- Believing we are too shy– Any social situation is difficult if you are shy and/or introverted, but especially when you feel you have more on the line than just pride alone. But we must make contacts and friends in the business if we are going to progress any more than in a limited way. We need other people!
- Trying to be something we are not – Kind of like the people who try to get dates by using lame pickup lines and fake personas, we are given the impression that networking is all about having a rehearsed elevator pitch and a kick-ass business card. Sadly it is not so straightforward, as anyone who has been bombarded with business cards or cornered in an elevator by someone wanting to pitch will tell you!
You might be thinking the biggest mistake is “not trying”, but I find that all but the tiniest minority of people do try. At least once or twice. Many give up, many struggle on, but most try.
The one big lesson I want you to get from reading this is to get out there, practice but be yourself.
As I said above, even though I thought I had majorly fouled up on my first attempt at genuine networking, it actually worked out really well. It worked out because, despite my shyness and nerves, I was myself.
How Anyone Can Connect With Ease and Confidence
If you want to quickly learn how to network effectively, without stretching your comfort zone too far or coming across as a fake, then I have good news!
Lewis Howes (the LinkedIn expert and sports networker) and I have put together an online class called Shy Networking that will show everything we have learned about growing effective networks the right way. As well as showing how to use all the modern tools to allow you connect with anyone by networking online, we have also got all the goods on how to make face to face networking not just profitable, but a pleasure, for even the most shy.