Your network of business connections may very well be your most valuable and important asset. As the old saying goes, "No man [or woman, for that matter] is an island"--we all gain influence and power when we connect with others who can help us further our goals, and whom we can help further their goals.
Building networks of people, for sure, requires connecting with others, caring about them, and adding value to the relationship. However, it takes more than that.
According to Judy Robinett, author of the book How to Be a Power Connector, "You need to (1) pinpoint the relationships you will pursue and nurture; (2) reach beyond just friends, family, and profession to build a wide network of connections; (3) use a system for adding value to those contacts regularly; and (4) become the connector between connections--the person who can help people reach a resource they wouldn't know about and could never reach if it weren't for you."
In addition, Robinett suggests adopting these 10 powerful habits of the best networkers.
1. Be authentic
Don't try to be someone you are not. Be transparent, honest, and genuine. Be yourself--you're the best you you've got.
2. Be trustworthy
Relationships are built on trust--lose it, and you may never get it back. Make your word your bond. When you promise to do something, move heaven and earth to deliver.
3. Be respectful
Show your appreciation when someone takes the time to do you a favor, and treat everyone equally--as you yourself would like to be treated.
4. Be caring
Have a good heart, be aware of others' feelings, and do everything in your power to help others succeed. When you care about others, they will care about you.
5. Be a listener
Be eager to learn about others--their hopes and desires, their work, their life outside of work, and other things of importance to them. Ask good questions, and then listen--really listen--to the answers.
6. Be engaged
Actively participate in the world around you. Open yourself up to new experiences and people. Be passionate about what you do, and do what you're passionate about. Be 100 percent present and engaged when meeting and talking with others.
7. Be patient
Understand that you can't build a network--or a strong relationship with someone you've just met--overnight. Networks take time to build.
8. Be intelligent
Constantly look for ways to put the members of your network together for their mutual benefit. Look out for their interests and take your ego out of the equation.
9. Be sociable
Be a source of positive energy when you meet others, and be as likable and as helpful as you can possibly be. You don't have to be an extrovert to build a powerful network, but you can't be a wallflower either.
10. Be connected
Be a solid connection within your network--someone that others can rely on and trust. When someone in your network needs your help, put him or her at the top of your list of priorities.