Do you ever get the feeling you could be getting more out of your contacts, both business and personal?
Do you ever have that nagging feeling that your networking contacts should be delivering more to your bottom line? And there is untapped potential within it yet to be exploited?
There’s a relatively simple exercise that you can carry out, to help you determine what role each person in your network can play to help you reach your goal. Although not a new theory on the block, the networking STARS system still holds true today and is well worth revisiting on a periodic basis.
The aim is to carry out a network ‘audit’ and assess each contact (whether it be Linkedin or whatever is your preferred social media platform) on an individual basis. Then categorise them according to what role they can play to help you reach your goal.
There are five categories in total, as follows;
The people who can help you clarify your goals, both personal and business. And map out the steps required to reach your goals. They can be from your industry or be a complete outsider. They can provide expertise, information, resources, challenge your thinking and in doing so, help you to solve problems and become innovative in the way you work.
Those people in your network closely linked to your goals. Targets are typically your most valuable customers who you hope will eventually buy your products and services. These people are the most difficult to get into your network, in fact you are networking primarily to get to your targets.
Whether with clients, competitors or ‘frenemies’, allied services or professions with whom you share a natural synergy. Or simply, those targeting a similar customer base or sharing a similar location. The potential alliances are almost endless. But the challenge is to work out which ‘allied force’ is best for you and your business.
Plenty has been written about the benefits of having a mentor in business to help you navigate the highs and lows of entrepreneurship. Someone who you can get to know well and trust, who has been there before and can help guide you, confer the wisdom of their experience or share their contacts with you. You could also have a ‘remote role model’ someone who provides inspiration because of their accomplishments.
These are the people you know well and are accessible. They provide emotional support when the going gets tough. Give encouragement when you are on your way up, and a ‘kick in the pants’ when you are slacking off. A business coach or family member can help to fulfil this role. By carrying out this exercise and distilling your network into its constituent parts. Not only will you understand it in more depth, but you will undoubtedly uncover valuable contacts with whom you have not spoken to in a while. Take the opportunity to contact them, understand where they are at now and see if you can help each other. If you conclude the contact cannot assist you in one of the STARS categories, then perhaps it’s time to consider if should they be part of your network at all? Reach for the STARS and you never know, you might end up hitting your targets sooner than you think.
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