This article is not designed to teach you the basics of networking and who you need in your network. For example, you need Power Partners, Affiliate Partners, Trained Customers (those who call you when they need any service related to yours), Un-trained Customers, etc. – those are all givens in any network. Instead, in this article we will focus on some of the members of a successful network that don’t get as much press, but that are vital to your success.
You may spend your whole networking career finding these people, but it is worth the effort. And, of course, we can’t find something if we don’t know we need it. So let’s uncover those lesser-known People You MUST Have In Your Network:
10. Your Industry Expert. There are experts in every industry. If you sell shoes, you need to search the world for the best experts on shoes and build a strong relationship with one of them. Do you sell technology? Who does your local paper turn to for their thoughts on technology? If you or your company come out with a new product, who can you turn to for their expert thoughts?
9. Your Life Coach. You might find yourself looking at a transition, a minor change, or an earth shattering, life-altering change. You want someone, or multiple someones, who will be there for you if you need them. Many people now offer this service (at a reasonable cost) and will often give a free hour session so you can try them out. Try a few before choosing – your life coach must fit with your learning style and belief system to be effective. You don’t need them often, but when you need them, you really need them.
8. Your Brainstormer. We all need that person who is so creative they can’t turn down a brainstorming session. You just mention the word “brainstorm” and they have five ideas for you on the best ways to brainstorm together. There are times when you need help thinking – this person is invaluable for that task.
7. Your “Therapist”. This is not necessarily a paid position but everyone needs someone to turn to who will just listen without judgment.
6. Your Networker. This person is very specific to your industry or field of work. If you work in construction sales, your networker is very well connected in the construction industry. You, of course, strive to be this person and will, hopefully, help others by being their networker. But you need one as well.
5. Your Personal Reality Checker. Who do you know that is very pragmatic? Who, when you pitch your pie in the sky idea, will helpfully demonstrate and illustrate the holes in your thought process? My wife fills this role for me and I used to get quite annoyed with her reality check abilities. Now I embrace her role – we dreamers all need this person in our life.
4. Your Role-Player. Practice makes perfect. And having someone who you trust to give you feedback on your latest networking tips and ideas, sales pitches, and speeches (if public speaking is part of your offerings) can be invaluable.
3. Your Dreamer. There are those that occasionally claim to be a dreamer – and then there are those that truly are visionaries and have a way of looking at the world that is different than the rest of us. Where others see challenges, they see opportunity. Having a Dreamer in your network reminds you of the beauty of life and almost forces you to ponder the possibilities of your own life.
2. Your Mentor. Who can you turn to that will answer the tough questions you don’t dare to ask your spouse? (Or, in some cases, the questions your spouse has asked that you really don’t want to answer but know you must – such as, “Is this business really viable?”) This person should be someone you look up to as a leader in your industry or profession. Someone who has the inside track on your personal definition of success and can, by association, hold you accountable to that pursuit.
1. Your Giver. This person is so giving and wonderful that you can’t figure out how he or she exists in the world without getting taken advantage of every day. Yet, strangely, no one takes advantage of this person. They have learned the art of giving and they understand how receiving coexists gracefully with the art of giving. This person tends to be very successful and their existence reminds you of how wonderful life really is. Hang out with Your Giver whenever you need to be reminded of the power of giving.
A great networker thinks outside of the box. They start with the obvious people needed in a successful network but are always looking to expand. Take action today to add one of these people to your network and then keep the list in the back of your mind. Over time, you will find great people to fill each of these 10 spots.