Derek Coburn is a Partner at Washington Financial Group, founder of CADRE, and author of Networking is Not Working. Networking is at the heart of every aspect of Derek’s business life but he wants to re-define the word. In his Paper Napkin Wisdom Derek talks about the kind of networking he feels is important and valuable.
The problem with the word ‘networking’, says Derek, is it has come to mean a lot of things to a lot of people and the vagueness of the multiple definitions has made it harder to achieve success when we are at networking events trying to create professional relationships. Derek is making an effort to re-define ‘networking’; he defines it as any activity that increases the value of your network or/and the value you contribute to your network.
Derek’s definition stems from the idea that if you’re spending your time networking in a way that’s about adding value to your clients and the professionals in your network, and you’re finding ways to do this on a one off basis or for the network as a whole, large networking events become unnecessary.
Large networking events can be frustrating because often the kinds of people you want to meet aren’t there. Derek feels that the time you could spend at those events is better spent by investing it in your current network. During the conversation, Derek describes three phases of networking but it is the third that he wants us to live by.
He says that Networking 3.0 is when you show up at networking events or facilitate gatherings and focus on your very best clients and best relationships. You focus on the things those people in your network have going on in their lives and their businesses where you might be able to make introductions that benefit them. If we do attend large networking events and we’re operating in 3.0, we can use these events to find potential clients for the people in your network in a low risk way that still adds value to your network.
We’ve talked about the importance of networks in previous napkins. As Jayson Gaignard said in his Paper Napkin “Your network is your net worth.” As entrepreneurs, it’s vital that we remember the importance of our networks and strive to make and strengthen connections to our best ability. In order to accomplish that, we have to dedicate time and effort into our efforts and make sure that when we do network we’re strengthening and maintaining our professional relationships.
If we’re doing that, it’s what Derek calls “The Ultimate Tie Breaker”. We become an extension of our clients’ business development and marketing departments. If you perform your core service to the client really well but you’re also working as an extension of your client, there’s great value there that strengthens your business relationship.
Ask yourself, what value do you add to your client? Are you consistently increasing the value of your network? If not, don’t you think it’s time to start?
Listen to my conversation with Derek here: