This is conversation 19 of 101 conversations about how small business owners build their networks. Learn how David, a seasoned expert in helping businesses grow, thinks about networking strategically.
Location: Denver, Colorado
David’s business: David is currently the COO at Dental Solutions, LLC, however, his specialty is coming into businesses and helping them implement change and growth.
How we met: I taught David’s son in Hebrew school when he was in 5th grade.
When I asked David how he builds his network, the first thing he said was, “A lot of people think they have networks because they know a lot of people, but knowing a lot of people isn’t the same as having a network.”
As a strategist for businesses, it makes sense that David views networking in a strategic sense as well. When building a network, he says, the methods change based on:
- WHY you’re networking – to get a job, personally, or for your business
- The phase of networking you are in
At first, networking means meeting and helping a lot of people so that you can form a lot of relationships.
David says that in order to form a true connection, there must be an anchoring event, whether that’s a genuine conversation, an experience working with someone, or a meetup group.
Even a job interview can be an anchoring event. A number of years ago, David did a job interview with someone who is now a significant part of his network. Even though he didn’t end up taking the job, he and the interviewer hit it off and started spending time together. They still meet on a regular basis.
In the beginning you are trying to develop relationships, and then you start to sift through and decide which relationships are worth cultivating the most.
It is great to have lots of relationships, but it also takes a lot of time and energy to make those relationships matter. The second phase of networking involves becoming more strategic about which relationships to foster. Instead of focusing on having lots of relationships, David prefers to have less of them, but make them more meaningful.
David didn’t have time to go into the ways that he fosters those relationships, but I can think of a few ways that I stay connected with important people in my network:
- I call people to check in on a regular basis
- I take time to look at their websites/Facebook walls and then thinking about how I can help them
- I ask for help when I need feedback
- I look for opportunities to collaborate
- I ask how I can support them
- Anchoring events are so important as “seeds” for growing a relationship.
- Building a network is a strategic process – it’s not just about connecting with a lot of people, but about deciding with whom to connect, and with whom to grow and foster a relationship.
You can connect with David by checking out his LinkedIn profile here.
1 step you can take to grow your network today:
Seek out anchoring events to forge real relationships. These can be having a conversation over coffee, attending a meetup group, or even meeting someone at a conference after party (like I did with Carie Roberts).