Building a Network of Advocacy and Collaboration

The primary purpose of any Connect Collaborative events is for you to proactively build your network, but unlike other networking events, it’s not about ‘working the room’ to gather the most random number of business cards before you disappear into the sunset. There are two effective ways to use Connect Collaborative events to grow your network.

1. Meeting people you haven’t invited to an event.

Everyone at a Connect Collaborative event is there by invitation, so there is a high expectation that each attendee will respect the original (primary) relationship as a matter of priority.

“Respecting the primary relationship” is a philosophy that protects the reputation of all those who attend Connect Collaborative events (including YOU) and is an important value for you to understand if you are genuine about building long-term relationships on our platforms.

By slowing down and uncovering the existing relationships and conversations already in play BEFORE you progress your conversation, works for long-term collaboration and will highlight to others that you have understood what the primary purpose of the Hub is (see section below) and that you can be trusted.

Our recommendation when you meet with someone new, is to ask “Who is the collaborator you are connected to?” and let them know who you are connected to. If you believe there is a good reason to continue the conversation, and before you have that ‘coffee’ why not meet again and continue the conversation at the next event.

This allows you (and your new contact) the time to speak with your collaborator, to make sure you aren’t  ‘stepping on any toes’  or be mistaken as a ‘networking vampire’. It also makes the most of your time and clearly demonstrates your intentions to collaborate and you can be clear they are genuine about building a relationship before giving you the ‘pitch’.

It doesn’t matter what the conversation, slowing down a your conversation is a way to demonstrate that you are genuine about respecting the efforts of the other collaborators, as they build their network alongside yours.  If there is an opportunity, and you have demonstrated that you are a person that can be relied upon and trusted, it is in the interests of your collaborator to actively help you to get the best result and is very likely to help where they can.

Meeting attendees at any Connect Collaborative event, or being introduced to their connections is simply a matter of time and trust. The longer and more consistently you attend, the greater the trust you will develop and the more benefit and advocacy you will receive.

BUT if everyone simply ‘showed up’ and waited for trust and the introduction to happen,  nothing would happen. This is why we encourage you to be proactive and pursue your own, new connections from outside the room through Social Media.

2. Meeting people you have invited to an event.

This is the primary purpose for all Connect Collaborative events. By inviting people you want to meet, for your purposes puts you completely in control of your results.

Social media is a great tool to reach out and connect to anyone but let’s face it, most people rarely achieve outstanding results when their connections are digital-only. A face-to-face connection is still the best way for you to develop relationships. Especially those that start online.

So if you are genuine about building your network based on real relationships, there are only two options to make that transition from digital to ‘offline’; a one on one meeting i.e. a ‘coffee’, or at an event or ‘hub’.

While there is a place for one on one meetings (when you are clear about the potential outcomes for the relationship moving forward), it makes sense to invite your online connections for that ‘first meet’ at a predictable, friendly and ‘safe’ environment where new people are hosted and made to feel welcome. It is also the most effective use of your time and theirs.

Meeting at an environment or ‘Hub’ where regular attendees and contributors can become known to each other without the ‘PITCH’ (see the section above) can enable you to form a genuine relationship, from which business and career opportunities can results. It also means you are able to connect (where appropriate) to other people you know, to add value.

Inviting and meeting new people to meet you at an event, also clearly demonstrates to others that you are prepared to create your own connections, independently and proactively rather than behaving like a ‘networking vampire’  and sucking the room and other people’s networks dry.

Remember, as a collaborative, we are invested in working with and enabling those who are building their network, rather than just networking (there is a big difference in approach and results!). There is absolutely no obligation that you will be introduced to, or referred business from anyone in the room.  Nor is there any obligation that you do the same.

Each event is facilitated for YOU to build your network alongside others who are doing the same. As you are deliberately meeting your new connections, trust can increase through your getting to know each other without the pressure of ‘what do you want from me?’. That’s when advocacy can happen – and does.

Only when trust is established can collaboration and advocacy exist, and referrals can flow.

3. Using Tools to enable others (Personal Scale)

If you intend to build your network using the Connect Collaborative events to build your own network, it makes sense to have access to tools and perspective that can enable you to use social media and those environments to effectively build relationships of ‘know, like & trust’.

But be clear, Rome wasn’t built in a day – it takes patience (and a little help)

The keys to rapid results-oriented Network Building:

  • Learn from a common source (the tools),
  • Take small amounts of consistent action (connecting and communicating online with the intent to meet),
  • take coaching from someone who is already taking action AND getting results.

But it doesn’t matter how effective the online strategy, or how great the environment. If you aren’t clear about why you need a strong, and growing network you’ll never do anything about it. Watch this great video and get clear about your why:

Why – What – How (Simon Sinek)