How to Build Stronger Networks


Do you have a lot of Twitter followers? Facebook friends? Do you consider them to be your most devoted disciples for your brand? Well, here’s a little splash of cold water: you shouldn’t. Just because you have folks on social media opting to hear what you have to say doesn’t mean they always will care or that they’re even part of your network. They might just be there for a quick coupon code and will turn around and leave as soon as they get it. They might have been an accidental butt-follow from their phone in their pockets during a late-night commute. You don’t know.

Well, piggybacking off a recent Inc. post, there are stronger ways of building up what they call “residues of trust,” which will make people more likely to refer others to you.

According to Inc., and, really, common sense, the folks who you can count among your most trusted allies are your hard-earned repeat customers. After that comes your friends and family. That makes sense, right?

I’ve said a variation of this before, but if you want to strengthen your ties, it helps to just be a freaking person. As Inc. says, “sales pitches are completely counterproductive here.” Nothing is a bigger turnoff to someone who hasn’t heard of you before if you come at them, guns a-blazin’, rattling off tons of information about your brand and how it will help solve all their problems. It’s akin to a door-to-door solicitor showing up repeatedly at your home, your office, and your bathroom trying to sweet talk you into caring about their service when you weren’t on the market for something to begin with.

So how can you stay in mind for them when they might be on the market? Inc. recommends:

“When you contact individuals to create your network, the tone should be that of a meeting between friends (or potential friends) rather than the classic interaction between a seller and buyer.”

That, also, and stressing the relationship you had that is bringing you to these other new contacts. If you mention someone they trust and respect, well, guess what — there’s a part of their brains that is scanning them for reasons to trust and respect you, too.

If you’re like me, you probably get a lot of non-personal LinkedIn connection invites from folks you’ve never heard of. The difference between someone explaining why they’re approaching you and typing nothing and allowing the default “I would like to add you to my professional network” to be sent couldn’t be more pronounced.

So, think about who you’re reaching out to, why and how you can bridge that gap in people’s minds quicker before they unsympathetically move on. 

David Wolinsky is a freelance writer and a lifelong Chicagoan. In addition to currently serving as an interviewer-writer for Adult Swim, he's also a comedy-writing instructor for Second City. He was the Chicago city editor for The Onion A.V. Club where he provided in-depth daily coverage of this city's bustling arts/entertainment scene for half a decade. His first career aspirations were to be a game-show host.

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