Now, you must have read through the various articles of networking on my blogs. If you are diligent and follow instructions, you are pretty progressing to success. Now, I am now going to give you counter-example. This is the herald of the “Black Swan”. 

Networking amongst our known folks is a preparation. If we do not do this, we will have no starting points. Every time, you approach a known person eg. A, you need to gauge the extent, his influence over his network, and his apparent willingness to do something for you that may benefit you. 

In wealthy economies and opportunities abound, people usually make an attempt to assist you. In the not so wealthy economies, people tend to play their cards close to their chest and guard their information and opportunity. A lot of us discover, reiterated by Jack Ma of Alibaba once said, “When doing Sales, the first people who will trust you will be Strangers, Friends will be shielding against you, fair-weather friends will distance from you. Family will look down upon you.

‘When Selling to close friends and family, no matter how much you’re selling to them, they will always feel you’re earning their money, no matter how cheap you sell to them, they still wouldn’t appreciate it.’

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There will always be people who do not care about your Costs, Time, Effort, they rather let other people cheat them, allowing others to earn, then supporting someone they know. Cause in their heart, they will always be thinking, ‘How much did he earn from me?’ instead of “How much did he SAVE/MAKE for me?”

Jack Ma grew up in China when opportunities are still scarce.

When dealing internationally, one needs to be aware of the mind-set we are dealing with. A thumb rule I use is if the country you are dealing with has a per capita income exceeding $20,000, people are open to helping. Anything with a per capita income below $20,000, there is a premium on opportunity as well as willingness to share information since it might be proprietary. Once you are aware of this phenomenon, you will make an attempt to diversify in such a location so that your business dealing does not get boxed into inefficient mode being burdened with degree of captivity (instead of leveraging degrees of freedom J).

My network has been built in Canada, I have an advantage. Yippeeee!!! That makes me feel very good and blessed. Unfortunately, things are not that rosy – You will need to work on your network or people whose networks you are accessing as well.  Why?

If we have worked on our networks, they will have enough diversity and open ends to make it an interesting network. If we have not worked into our network but it is more an inherited network virtue of our high school, neighborhood, college, graduate school, it is likely to be very similar. It is like an alcoholic having all beer guzzlers and liquor stores in his network.

Networks are by nature, “clumpy” or “lumpy”.  It’s human nature to gel with people similar to us. Not sure how many of you have visited India, but India loves to create short forms for places, names, relationships etc. Interestingly, India has a abbreviated for this…. PLU (People like us) and PLT (People like them).  People gravitate or are attracted incestuously to people with similar barometers on education, age, race, professional status, industry, functional focus, gender, or even preferences (special interest) etc.  WE NEED TO DIVERSIFY.

I have dwelled upon how to diversify from your inherited network. Now, you are networking at private and public conferences to diversity. Another tool that you could use to diversify is to go international. Again, the low hanging fruit is to diversify internationally but within your trade and then at Stage 2 international diversification, you will push it to outside your trade into local business bodies and other industries etc.

While we worked in Endemol Shine Group, a large Anglo-Dutch TV entertainement company, we decided to organize exchanges between people of same functions but different geographies. We soon realized that people were pleased to meet, since they realized that business is the same and their industry is just at different stages of development or evolution. We got a lot of ideas how to deal with a client who arm twists and used to getting their way. We started retaining IP rights as well as exploring more partnerships with our international co-workers to leverage their investments in any fixed assets. We ended up created common facilities in Argentina and South Africa in the year 2008, for shows like Wipeout, Fear Factor, Big Brother, which was used by everyone across the world including third parties. It was like an Uber or an Air BnB.

In running a large business networking organization for the last couple of years, people often tell me that they prefer to network exclusively with other business professionals who work with clients in a similar socio-economic target market, in other words – network with business professionals with similar clients eg. Londoners hang out with New Yorkers  Definitely, good to include these people in your personal network, but network with them exclusively would be disaster.

Net net, the bottomline is that one needs to diversify his network. What parameter you choose to adopt to enhance the potency of your spider juice? Not the use of the word spider juice, it is not out of a deeper meaning. The name of the game is “strategic networking”. Lets look at any spider……

A spider has special structures called spinnerets at the end of its abdomen. You’ve probably watched a spider constructing a web, or rappelling from a silk thread. The spider uses its hind legs to pull the strand of silk from its spinnerets, little by little.

The spider weaves intricate networking patterns which co-join the whole perimeter it intends to cover. It positions itself strategically and hence its web (network) where it believes it will get the greatest result. It knows its target market and then spins the web to capture its target market.

Structurally, silk consists of layers of amorphous and crystalline proteins. The firmer protein crystals give silk its strength, while the softer, shapeless protein provides elasticity. We need to be firm in the strength of our knowledge and flexible in the execution of strategy, so that we can be switch mid-way if we need to.  

Spiders will often recycle valuable silk proteins by eating their webs. Remarkably, they’ve found spiders can consume and reuse silk proteins in 30 minutes. That’s an amazing recycling system! That is active thinking that we need to do while planning our monetization of our opportunity. It is not necessary that the actual execution will turn out the way we had planned in the start.

Each individual within that network helps you build a better set of relationships, resulting in a better outcome. Make sure it’s not one strand of communication but a sustained, regular strand of communication over multiple networking sessions with the same individual and with various other individuals in the targeted companies. That helps you build relationships, not a one off contact who forgets you the minute they leave that networking session. Build your personal brand through this. Why do you remember “PEPSI”? You want to be the “PEPSI” in their minds.

After analyzing the air currents, Spiders toss their single silk thread to leverage the air currents to guide the journey to a target location.

Should I be creating a system of labeling that helps me become efficient? To avoid ineffective types in future? NO.  It tip-toes through the web…. SKIMS THE CONVERSATIONS AND Moves around until her finds his target and therefore the desire of his attention.

Once it identifies a target, then the spider runs along the single strand tossing more silk in various directions and targets thereby strengthening the bridge on which it walks. The more legs the spiders throws onto surfaces, the stronger the net perimeter becomes. It can then easily use shorter distances to web the bridges (strengthen the perimeter) together.  Net net, when your network connection and reputation get reinforced from multiple sources, the trust grows.

In conclusion, business or deal making happens due to trust which in turn grows due to multiple touchpoints either in terms of number of HIGH QUALITY interactions with the same person  or comfort level of deep HIGH QUALITY recommendations from diverse people from your client trusts. 

It cannot be over-emphasized that every meeting with every network contact needs to be of high quality. We will talk about preparation for networking meetings later.

But getting to high quality recommenders in a diverse network, means identifying what we can call as CONNECTORS. Now, that is not a very technical term. Some people label connectors by what they do and call them “Lynchpins”. Like the term suggest, lynchpins will lynch every node or network contact for diversity and every bit of information. They are great repositories of relevant news and actionable information or actionable intelligence.

How does one get to these connectors or gateways? You will find them to skilled raconteurs or anecdote tellers as well as in business development and usually people whose career has taken them across various industries. Review their account, takes notes about their interests during the first informational interview you do, people from management consulting, people from investment  banking etc.  They are usually people plugged into multiple powerful networks. A doctor with a JD is plugged both into the medical fraternity as well as attorneys. Get more lynchpins and it will increase the diversity, virility of your network and even contribute towards complementing your own personality and abilities. 

Diversity is not only the “right” thing to do, it’s also the “smart” thing to do when it comes to networking. You need to have a fecund brain always looking for opportunity to monetize. To such a person, it is only natural to seek out diversity. International diversification is singularly most potent network. In the next blog, I will write about how to go about diversifying into the international side of our existing networks. 

Ankush Patel