How to Build a Powerful Network

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I have been networking for many years. I also speak on networking to companies and organizations across the country and often blog on networking. This post recently appeared on the Marketing Executives Networking Group (MENG) blog site.

So here are my tips and perspectives for building a powerful network:

First, have a networking strategy. Don’t just network with the purpose of being out there but with the purpose of accomplishing objectives no matter what they may be.  One of my goals will be to harvest my network through reaching out to the people I already know instead of meeting more people. Because of the longevity of my networking and speaking, I know too many people in too many ways.

Next, leave the house. Too many people hide behind their computers. Sure, it is imperative today to be robust on Linkedin and participate in social media. As marketers, we all need to be current on the latest trends in marketing, but I believe that face time and not Facebook lead to relationships. Your contacts on social media are contacts but not connections.

If you are in transition, try to set up five meetings a day. Finding a job is a full time job. Five meetings a day will average three because of cancellations. Each individual should provide you with at least with two contacts. That is 6 contacts a day, 30 a week, 120 a month and a whole bunch in a year. For perspective, ask yourself “How would your life change if you met one new person a year?”

If you are employed, you should meet with three new people who are pitching you. I would concentrate on providers in the mobile or iPad spaces because these are going to be the next predictable New Worlds.

Get less vertical and more horizontal. Too many people attend only a very limited number of groups. They go often which is great but sometimes they only end up talking to people they know and not expanding their networks. They are more socializing than networking.

In the marketing arena there are many advertising, public relations and marketing group meetings that will expand your network and provide more resources. These include organizations like PRSA, IABC, AAF Chapters, AMA, HPRMA, and other local groups.  In the OC we have Laguna Niguel Connectors.

Market yourself like you would market your clients. I have met many excellent marketers within and outside MENG who dumb down their marketing skills when it comes to marketing themselves. They are believers in the power of branding yet weaken their personal brand by getting generic cards from the internet, not having cards (yes believe it), having no website, or not participating in social media. I believe that today it is not your elevator speech that matters, but your Google presence. Your chances of getting on an elevator with a hiring manager are slim, but the chances hiring managers will Google you are much greater. You must own the first page when people Google your name.

Last year I sent out four press releases on Business Wire about some of my marketing engagements, speaking events, and thought leadership. Why?  Because they help my organic SEO dramatically and provide validation material for pitching new business. And I know the value of being above the crowd.

To effectively network in 2011, you have to Network with a Purpose.  More on that in the coming year.  I know it is going to be a better one.

To contact Hank to speak to your company or any organizations you may be involved with send him an e mail at hank@hankblank.com or Tweet @hankblank You can download Hank’s Networking CD’s by visiting his site at www.hankblank.com

You can connect with Hank on Linkedin

http://www.linkedin.com/in/hankblankcom

Follow his updates on twitter @hankblank

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/hankblank

Watch a video on YouTube: How to Rise Above the Crowd.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bkO7efleWX4

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8 thoughts on “How to Build a Powerful Network

  1. Great stuff, Hank. I think both your main points are critical — I network heavily within my niche (sustainability / corporate responsibility) using LinkedIn. I’ve personally met somewhere over half of my nearly 600 LinkedIn contacts and have at least spoken on the phone with over 95 percent of them.

    Earlier this week, I was at a marketing executives networking meeting, sitting next to a recently former CMO. He sent a LinkedIn “transition” message to his 250 LI contacts and got a dozen responses. I had sent one to my LinkedIn list as well and had somewhere in the vicinity of 200 plus responses – a huge difference in response rate.

    I think the main difference in response rates was because I cultivate my network instead of just growing it – staying in touch and feeding useful information to those folks. It may also be because my thought leadership in the space makes me a little more visible in my niche’s circles. Finally, I was upbeat, clear and made it easy to provide what I was seeking — primarily a few minutes of phone time and/or referrals to network with. My excellent “harvest” was the result.

  2. I really like the idea of treating a networking meeting like a professional proposal. Have fun, but be serious and professional. Especially for job seekers! A game of singles and if you hit a single every time you’d earn millions!

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