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Part of our
Making of a Brand Series
At what point is networking not conducive to your business?
We all know that networking is a vital part to success, but how much is too much? How do you make good honest networking decisions, without compromising your ideas or strategies?
Networking is an art about risk versus reward. No two business owners are alike. Despite whatever common ground that might be shared, each will approach task differently. In other words, sometimes you may link up with a solid reputable resource, but your go-to-guy (or gal) could actually be your competition!
The small business game is cut throat. I've had former clients send new folks my way, just in an attempt to garner information. I've had "secret shoppers" of sorts, who are willing to pay for a product/service or even invest in a joint venture, just to try and get inside my head. I've had larger, more experienced entity's attempt to grab my concepts, just because they have more resources.
What folks like this really want, is a sneak peak; exclusive access to your ways of thinking to help build their own brand! Let's face it, it's nearly impossible to network without revealing some form of information, but how do you determine who's in it only to ride the waves?
The danger of networking is this: it's a two edged sword! On one hand you MUST network with others in order to thrive; but you also must be very selective about each networking opportunity. That selection process is a lot tougher than it sounds. So...How do you walk this tightrope? Hereare 3 things to do before entertaining any networking/collaboration opportunity:
1.Put your needs on pause. That's right, forget about YOU, and ask yourself what's in it for them? What is the end game, and how does it work out for THEM?
2. Do your homework! Don't just seek out the usual information like background, history, or evidence of success. Instead, look for the not-so obvious signs. Evaluate affliations (past and present). Who is on the team? Hint: check out popular websites and social media pages for embedded links, trends, logos, post or comments.
3. Listen to your circadian clock! Where there's smoke, there usually is fire. If something doesn't feel right, chances are it isn't. Don't be in a hurry to form partnerships just to fast forward your progress. Take your time and reveal as little as possible during the courting stages. Also, don't be afraid to initiate confidentiality agreements where/if needed. If they refuse to sign that should be a huge indicator!
Networking is a vital component to building, but it is important to also have a thorough understanding of the Who's, What's, and Why's. While most networking is harmlessly beneficial, it wouldn't hurt to do a little extra digging. Afterall, your brand is your 'baby'; it's your task to protect it at all times.