Your network equals your net worth.

In this post, I'll share three proven, yet counterintuitive approaches that will help you rapidly build a great network of successful entrepreneurs.

Be exceptionally helpful

Helping people is the fast track to building strong relationships.

Let's say a struggling entrepreneur asks for your help--you can help by setting up a call, listening to their problems and offering your advice.

Go the extra mile and try to be exceptionally helpful. Buy them lunch and take the time to drill into what their specific challenges are. After you meet them, connect them directly with people in your network who have overcome the challenges they're facing. Then, follow up with them in a week and see if they need any more help.

Being exceptionally helpful doesn't mean you seek payback or keep score of your favors.

You're planting the seeds for a relationship that will blossom in the future and entrepreneurial karma has a funny way of finding it's way back to you.

Make a targeted, risk-free offer

Entrepreneurs are risk averse.

We take calculated bets, instead of putting our reputation, business and money on the line. Keep this in mind when you're looking to network 'up' and connect with influencers or potential mentors.

What does this mean in practice? If you see an obvious problem you can solve for an established entrepreneur, take a laser-targeted approach.

First, do the pre-work to make sure they really need your help. You can find pain points by listening to interviews or reading articles they've been featured in. Then, put together a specific example of what you can do to help them. Make sure your work is high quality and solves their problem. Finally, when you do get in touch, explain who you are, what you've done and why you want to help them.

To seal the deal, volunteer to deliver a small project for free and you will set yourself apart from everyone else who is vying for their attention.

Be proactive and check in

Nurturing your network takes a tiny, yet consistent effort.

Here are three simple ways to do this:

The 'I saw this and thought of you' email. When you see an article, video or useful link--share it with your connection. This is a great way to stay on their radar and thoughtfully add value.

The 'you two will get along famously' introduction. If you meet two entrepreneurs who have aligned skills or interests, take the lead and introduce them. Before you do this, warm up each person by checking in and making sure they are amenable to the connection.

The 'alley oop' assist. This is the most powerful way to connect people. Let's say you have a friend who is a great writer, but lacks marketing skills and an expert book marketer who has proven their ability to launch books. Make the connection and watch their results compound.

Published on: Jan 20, 2015