Financially Responsible Marketing

Ask yourself these 3 questions about your long-term approach to networking

Posted by on Nov 23, 2016


Credit photo to Ryan Chan for The National Ballet of Canada, Turnout Programme

Question: Why is it that it that building a lasting business relationship seems to require battling with a crisis first?

Answer: Fighting side by side builds bonds – ask anyone in the military.

But it’s more than worthwhile to prioritize the process of cultivating strong relationships in the absence of crisis. It’s true, we can get by without strong relationships on a sunny day. But they come in handy at every turn or obstacle in the road. Think of your network as working capital, resources, a solid foundation. A business necessity, at the end of the day.

Men typically have advantages in building networks in that the societal structures are centuries-established, the golf course being but one. Women have advantages in that we tend to be more collaborative and inclusive (see Amy Cuddy’s Presence). This helps women to build bonds, but is less of a benefit in building strategic networks, less yet when we plan to leverage them.

Women may handicap themselves by perceived rules about not bringing in business conversation to social events. Men don’t tend to observe this divide, and will take the opportunity to make the ask. Not a bad policy to follow!

Question: If relationships are key to success, why don’t we spend more time deliberately investing in them? 

Answer: Do you know the story of the hole in the roof? On sunny day, why fix it? On a rainy day, you can’t fix a hole in the roof.

Be active about your network. Look at building and maintaining it as part of your business role. And be strategic as well, not passive. Of course, you can go to a networking event and talk to a few people, even make a connection or three.

But ideally, you’re active, not passive, as to who you connect with. You’re strategic and disciplined. You optimize variety – across industries, roles, geography, and personality types. To put it another way, a strong network is not a group of like-minded buddies. It is a varied group of people with similar values and a drive for success.

Ideally, the key individual in your strong network is your mentor. Finding a good mentor is key to growing professionally, so I’ll be devoting a whole blog post to the topic in the New Year. Watch this space!

Question: Isn’t networking about meeting new people?

Answer: “Make new friends but keep the old; one is silver and the other’s gold.”

It’s not too difficult to regularly make time for networking situations or events. It’s a bit harder to set aside time to keep up with old associates, clients and colleagues. But there is no substitute for building trusted relationships over time. Just as Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in (Robert Frost) – trusted relationships that have been built over time will help you overcome many an obstacle, and stand you through the toughest of challenges.

They may also help to open doors that would otherwise remain forever closed, and give you access to talent and resources that you would otherwise never meet.

The holiday season is a busy time for social and business gatherings.  So aim to invest in a little networking at every event you attend, and try to divide that time between making new connections and nourishing old ones. Next time the roof is leaking, you’ll be glad you did.


For 3 tips on how to assess the value of your current network, check out Mellie Chow’s blog