July 11, 2023

Broken to Better: Success Starts with Who You Know

It all starts with who you know.

Whether you’re fresh out of college, bursting with enthusiasm, or a seasoned professional, looking for a way to pivot out of the corporate world, there’s one thing critical to your success: networking. 

Like many people taking the first steps in their career, I thought I’d find an entry-level job (in sports medicine, at the time) and work my way up to the top. But after several setbacks, I found myself continuously reaching out to my network for help. 

I quickly realized who was in my network was critical to my success.

Which why it’s my #1 piece of advice for those looking to build a business with purpose and impact. Even as a solopreneur, who you know and the team you surround yourself with is the pinnacle of success. At a minimum, your business circle should include an internal “board of directors” that starts with:

  • A banker
  • An accountant
  • A trusted friend or colleague

So if you want to Be Better, you better be connected. Here are my top tips for growing and nurturing your network.

1. Put in the effort upfront

No matter how many networking events or industry conferences I attend, I’m always surprised by the number of people who take a more casual approach. That’s why my first tip is all about showing up well, and that takes upfront effort.

Do some research ahead of time on the people hosting and attending, the event format, and etiquette. How you dress, act, and approach attendees will greatly impact your success.

If you want to take your preparation a step further, work on your elevator pitch and identify your goals for the event. If you’re just getting used to in-person networking, maybe your goal is to make one connection. Or maybe it’s to find one person in X industry. When you feel more prepared, you’ll walk into the event with confidence.

2. Be open and talk to everyone

Even when you’re prepared, walking into an event can be intimidating. Take a deep breath, be calm, and be yourself. Walking up to people you’ve never met is challenging, but it’s a necessary skill that gets easier with practice.

Be friendly and engage in conversations with everyone, even if you don’t see an immediate benefit to yourself or your business. This is where many people go wrong. Networking is a two-way street, so you want to be helpful in any way possible. 

Remember that it’s rare to close a deal at a networking event. It’s all about establishing relationships. The way to succeed is to ask questions, find common interests, and be authentic.

3. Don’t forget to follow up

Often forgotten, the follow-up is the real art of networking. While you’re not likely to make a deal on the first introduction, following up is the best way to build a relationship that could lead to future opportunities.

It’s important to do what you say you’re going to do when you’re going to do it. Simply delivering on small promises can build trust with future clients. Alternatively, if you can’t follow through on the easy things, they won’t trust you to do the big things.

4. Go digital

Virtual connections are powering many people’s networks and businesses. Tap into social media platforms, especially LinkedIn. 

If you haven’t established yourself on this critical business networking site, then I urge you to do so. The platform is a treasure trove of information and resources to help your business efforts. You can also showcase your industry expertise and thought leadership. 

First, fill out your profile completely with jobs, volunteer work, organizations, or any other important information. Ask for recommendations and endorsements to fill your profile with social proof.

Then spend a fair amount of time connecting with people you know from past jobs or organizations, join groups that interest you, or follow companies. Don’t hold back. Build your connections to the recommended 500+ and give people a well-rounded view of who you are and what you stand for.

5. Don’t be afraid to fail

Networking rides the line between an art and a science. You can read all the books, take the courses, and attempt to do everything the “right” way and things can still go wrong. It’s the art aspect that relies on your unique personality and creative flair. Just like in business, networking relies on going out on a limb because you’re not afraid to fall.

When life happens, when you’re late for a meeting because of Southern California traffic, for example, own up to your mistakes. Be honest, apologize, and say it won’t happen again. The worst mistake you can make is to be inauthentic.

Build your network. Be connected. Be better.

In business, who you know is often as important as what you know. As we grow, it’s important to recognize that our network isn’t just an accessory to success, it’s pivotal to it. The people you surround yourself with, the advisors you confide in, and the peers who inspire you form the pillars of your success.

Networking may seem daunting at first, but it’s worth mastering. 

Want hands-on guidance to build and leverage your network for your next business venture? Check out my consulting page to get started.

I wish you the best in your business venture!    

This piece is based on a chapter of Broken to Better: 13 Ways Not to Fail at Life and Leadership. The book is dedicated to business leaders who are seeking to Be Better in their company for their employees, clients and communities. Download/purchase the full book, here.

Call Us Email Us
Close menu