You know this person. In fact, you might even be this person. Whom you ask? The person we’re talking about has a large network but doesn’t know anyone well.
This person does the right thing and reaches out, paying attention to meeting others and building his network, but his plan has one fatal flaw. It focuses on shallow relationships rather than true connections.
It’s easy to understand the shallow network problem if you consider the concept of quality over quantity. When a business sacrifices the quality of its products and services for the sake of producing higher quantities, the results are typically poor.
Sure, the company may manage a quick boost of sales, but eventually customers start to complain, request refunds, and spread the word that the company doesn’t provide a reasonable value.
As a result, the business that puts too much emphasis on quantity suffers a loss of sales and difficulty meeting its goals. The same applies with business networking. Focusing on simply making as many connections as possible instead of establishing deep connections makes meeting your goals that much harder.
The Shallow End
When your focus is on adding as many people as possible to your network, you aren’t taking the time to get to know those connections. You may know their names and a little about what they do, but that’s it.
With such a shallow connection, you’re not building up the trust required for people to share valuable information and provide referrals. In fact, you’re not even giving them a reason to take an interest in you and what you have to offer.
Remember, all business people have something to sell. Other people, including those you network with, need a reason to care. Without this, the hundreds of people in your network will do you no good.
To make the most of your business network, focus on quality over quantity. Get to know your connections’ likes and dislikes, backgrounds, interests, pain points, etc.
Then, reach out to your contacts by name, asking and commenting about the things you’ve learned about them and taking every opportunity to establish common ground. By showing that you are interested in your connections and that you remember what’s important to them, you establish yourself as someone worth paying attention to.
Overtime, this builds the type of trust and interest that leads to sharing, sales, referrals, endorsements and even partnerships—all payoffs for your business networking efforts.
The moral of the story here is that building your business network is important. Just make sure you’re building true connections, developing relationships, and engaging. Otherwise, your connections are really just numbers on a list and not worth very much.