Here’s one of my latest articles. Although it’s aimed at coaches with their own business, I think there’s value for anyone interested in maintaining a robust and supportive network.
After eight years running my own successful coaching and training business, one thing stands out for me as imperative for the success of any coach: the need to have a good network of people around you. A network is a group of people with a similar set of beliefs that you can turn to if you need support, but who are not afraid to challenge you. And most importantly, a network that can boost you up on those days where things may not be going according to plan!
There are many benefits to a quality network. It doesn’t matter if you work in a large or small organization; having a network will enable you to tap into valuable information, support and resources. As a coach, it is normal to have ups and downs in your business, and a good network will keep you on track to achieving your vision and assist in boosting your own self-belief. In addition, your ability to achieve your potential and the outcomes you are seeking is further optimized.
Within your own coaching business, I highly recommend focusing on leveraging your strengths and engaging other people to do the things that you really don’t enjoy. Many coaches are the owners of their own small businesses and can easily fall into the trap of thinking that they need to do everything themselves. In fact, you can end up doing more marketing, business development and social media than you do coaching!
The key is to remember that you can’t be an expert in everything that you do
– if you insist on wearing every expert hat, you will end up feeling overwhelmed, drained of your precious energy or lose your passion for your actual coaching services! The secret is to find other experts who can assist you, and again this is where having a great network is really beneficial. Reach out to your network and outsource those tasks to others who have strengths in the areas you do not.
Contrary to common belief, networking isn’t just about exchanging business cards and hoping that someone will get in touch.
It is really about taking the time to develop worthwhile and important relationships and then over time, continuing to nurture them. Quality – not quantity – is key, and it is more important to have a small group of valuable contacts than a large collection of business cards. My own network includes a great combination of people including colleagues, clients, mentors, coaching students, suppliers and previous colleagues from my corporate days.
Always remember that everyone in your network can offer you a different range of resources and talents, and always make sure that you give the same back. Both sides need to benefit from the connection so ensure you are a resource to them as well. Don’t become a pest; only contacting people when you need something from them.
There are lots of opportunities to become a great networker, both online and in person.Here are a few of my favorite tips:
- Attend events, both formal and informal. The International Coach Federation (ICF) offers great opportunities to connect and meet like-minded people, as well as providing some wonderful learning, so take the time to attend.
- When you do interact with your network contacts, talk about something other than yourself. Ask how they are doing and talk about topics that make it clear you’re not simply using them for their connections.
- Ensure that you stay in touch with those in your network. Check in with them on a regular basis. This might mean a quick email or phone call or arranging time to meet them for a quick coffee. Use this time well and offer value to them by assisting them with any support, information or referrals that they may find beneficia Also offer to introduce them to other members of your network.
- Face-to-face meetings are preferred, but you can also use social media to stay connected if you don’t speak to individuals on a regular basis. Work out how each person uses social media and keep in contact this way. Pay attention to any updates and congratulate people in your network when they get a promotion or start something new.
- When networking, be authentic and present and put your full attention on the person you are communicating with. This will build trust and reputation – essential for growing a strong business network. Always follow up on any commitments you have made.
In conclusion, learn to manage your network and it will have a huge beneficial impact on your business. It really is “not what you know, it is who you know”.