Human beings tend to hang out with others similar to them. We gravitate to people who share similar interests and life experiences to ourselves. But those with the most powerful networks understand the value of depth as well as diversity in their network.
The first key to success in a network is depth. By depth, I mean having a strong relationship with those you seek to generate referrals into your business. The founder of BNI, the worlds’ largest referral organisation, Dr Ivan Misner talks about the VCP process:
V = visibility
C = credibility
P = profitability
Most people who ‘attend’ networking events, rarely move past the visibility stage unless they have a commitment to engage with the people they meet outside of networking events. Getting to know individuals both personally and professionally creates credibility with your network. With a few key partners, you may move into profitability – this is where you know each other’s businesses so well that the referrals you generate for each other are so well qualified that they are effectively ‘in the bag and all you have to do is collect the ‘cheque’. It takes time and a lot of commitment to get to this stage. Of course, you can generate referrals at any stage in the VCP process; earlier stages tend to be referrals of lesser value or magnitude.
The real power of a network is having diversity layered on top of depth. As I said earlier, we tend to hang around those people who resonate with our life experiences. But imagine the possibilities in your network if you had people from wide-ranging backgrounds and experiences.
- I don’t get to meet a lot of younger people organically. But having a broad network means that I get introductions to people of all ages. As I work with many younger people, this helps me to connect
- In today’s’ modern business world, gender is evenly represented. Having your network mainly comprise of one gender really limits your ability to connect with the wider business world. My friend and collage Hazel Walker has written a great book on the different ways man and women network and is worth a read. Learn more about Hazel here.
- With people migrating around the globe,
- Business experience
- Life experience
- Family life
- Sporting or hobby interests
Developing your network to be both diverse and deep gives you the opportunity to grow your business in ways you never thought possible. Many people simply go for ‘numbers’ and whilst this may expose you to a level of diversity, without forming deeper relationships you’ll never be able to truly leverage your network.
Take a look at your network and critically analyse whether you have both depth and diversity. If not, reach out to just one person outside your comfort zone and get to know them a little better. You may just be surprised what that new relationship will yield.