A network of connections with the right people benefits your organization. The stronger, the better. To weave the strongest network, create solid connections with individuals who work in organizations that offer the greatest potential mutual benefits.
With whom should you link?
As a CEO you are at the centre of a web of people representing clients, suppliers, communities and governments. It is likely that you will relate best to people with whom you share experiences and perspectives; usually, those with the same responsibilities.
Building strong relationships with suppliers helps them to deliver what you want more effectively. In addition, they may become a customer or connect you with a potential client.
Connections in your community create a more supportive environment for your operation. And, someone may become an unexpected centre of influence for you. After helping the London Economic Development Corporation create its manufacturing council, I gained a centre of influence, someone who connected me with many potential clients.
Relationships with civil servants at all levels of government can lead you to opportunities, as they have effective networks in their field and beyond.
Connect through organizations.
Find out in which organizations, individuals with whom you want to connect, are actively involved; a chamber of commerce, business networking club or non-profit charity. Involve yourself in making a real contribution to the same committees in which they participate.
Connect through your network.
You already know between 500 and 1,000 contacts on a first name basis. They each know 500 to 1,000 others. Simply two links away from you are between 250,000 and 1,000,000 people. It works. Someone I met started me on the path to meet the Prince of Wales, who was just four links away!
Engage in conversation with those closest in your network. When the relationship feels right, ask for a suggestion about someone you might meet. Continue onward and outward. When you meet someone new, listen first to understand them and their organization. Find ways to help them benefit from the relationship. When you feel they trust you, ask questions that allow you to offer ways in which they can get results working with your organization.
Social media is most effectively used to maintain and solidify pre-existing relationships. It can help connect you to those with shared interests, activities and identities; but, the depth of relationships that can occur is limited.
A strong network of people sharing mutual benefits helps you build a structure that captures greater gains for your organization.