How to Make the Right Connections with a Limited Network

by Pat Hammond on Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Power of a Small Network

I've got a secret and it's a doozie.

I know it's going to sound crazy and counter intuitive, but I consciously cultivate a small network. Even online, where the number of friends and likes are the standard for social media success, I only connect with a fraction of the people I meet because building a strong network with quality connections requires time and energy and when you're an entrepreneur these resources are in short supply.

If you think of your network as a bell curve there is a sweet spot at the top of the curve where the network reaches its maximum performance. This is the point where you know enough people to effectively reach anyone you are likely to need to reach. In fact, creating connections beyond that point is going to be detrimental.

Network Effectivess

Getting back to the bell curve, at the start of the curve the efficiency of your network grows with your number of connections because every person you connect with increases your potential reach until you get to the top of the curve. The top of the curve represents the balance between the value of your network and how much work you have to put into maintaining it. Once you start gathering more connections than you can effectively service you start that downward slide towards inefficiency.

Remember, networks are the about quid pro quo. You have to give just as much as you take and there comes a point when you could easily spend much more time servicing connections than reaping any benefit.

This is where the quality of your connections comes in.

A good connection is someone who provides a product, service or information, they may be a potential client and can connect you to someone who is.

I'm going to rub a few people the wrong way, but I don't like doing business with my first level connections. These are the people I meet for coffee and share referrals. I'm happy to answer questions and do a small job here and there, but more often than not my first level people are information sources and gateways to meeting other people.

Which brings us to the topic of this month's meetup, how to make the right connection with a limited network.

  • Is this person someone who has a product or service you need?
  • Does this person have information you want?
  • Can this person connect you to someone who does?

Your connections have to have value beyond being a social media stat. In a perfect world your connections would have at least two of these qualities, but as long as you say "yes" to at least one, they are probably probably a connection worth cultivating.

Details

If you haven't heard about Coffee Buzz Networking we're a group of local small business people and freelancers who meet once a month to network, share referrals and connect.

We're a small group, usually around 10 people, and we're pretty laid back. Everyone has a chance to share their latest products, specials and promotions, but there are no blatant sales pitches.

Meeting Agenda

Coffee Buzz June 7th, 2016

  • 9:30 AM - 9:45 AM Introductions & Member News
  • 9:45 AM - 10:00 AM Discussion: This month's meetup we are talking about the cultivation and benefits of a small network.
  • 10:00 AM - 10:30 AM Member Challenge: Group discussion about a member's business challenge.

Feel free to hang out for open networking after the meetup!

Let me know if you have any questions, I can be reached at buzz@queencity.buzz

Pat Hammond

Editor & Queen Bee at Queen City Buzz

PS: Coffee Buzz is Free and open to anyone!

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