As 2014 draws to a close, optimistic people around the globe are preparing to set New Year’s Resolutions for health and prosperity in 2015. Have you given any thought yet to your networking resolutions for the new year?
We may like to believe that we've built something on our own, but our networks are the source of all our achievements and milestones in life. Success does not occur in a vacuum. Every step of the way, others have helped us.
If we want a richer, more rewarding life, we need to develop a richer network. People show up almost daily to assist well-networked people in achieving their goals, whether as new customers, or invaluable connections that lead to customers and new opportunities.
If you take a cross-section of people this world considers successful: athletes, actors, models, high level executives, top professionals, entrepreneurs, etc., a very high percentage of these people are committed to living an active, healthy lifestyle. Their success plan includes eating right, getting plenty of rest and working out with their personal trainer each week.
We can of course always point to the few “exceptions” that are obese, eat a ridiculously unhealthy diet, smoke like a chimney, consume large amounts of drugs and alcohol, have never entered a gym door in their life, but still have achieved wealth and notoriety. But can we consider these people truly successful?
I watched The Expendables 3 a few days ago. Sly Stallone is the portrait of vibrant health and vitality, playing the action hero at age 68. He also enjoys doing much of his own stunt work.
Nobody would contest the fact that fitness has been one of the pillars of Sly’s success. Being of sound mind and body also contributes towards our own success and quality of life.
So why aren’t all of us heading to the gym 3 to 6 times a week and hiring a trainer? Here are some of the excuses for being in less than ideal shape:
The people that use this gem suggest that a desire for physical activity is a personality trait; one they don’t possess. Oh well, it’s just not “me”… what can I do?
And while it’s true that some people enjoy getting off their butt and into the gym more than others, the law of survival of the fittest does not favour those who decide to follow their “natural” inclination to just sit at the desk or couch.
The commitment to regular exercise will push most of us well outside our natural comfort zones.
I've heard this one a lot, and I have watched people close to me suffer from physical conditions that were either brought on, or certainly aggravated, by this “live for today” mindset.
Avoiding the things we know we should be doing can become very costly and painful.
There’s a misconception that physical fitness consumes a lot of time, and it’s painful. The intense January routines designed to whip our bodies back into shape, after months or years of neglect, do lend support to this belief.
In his book, "Sly Moves", Sylvester Stallone admits,“I rarely spend more than three and a half hours a week in the gym.” When the proper foundation has been laid, maintaining a healthy body requires far less effort than most would believe.
And it doesn’t stop with exercise. I have frequently cut down on my hours of quality sleep, and eaten poorly, because I “didn’t have the time” to rest or prepare healthy meals. If I’m honest with myself, however, it wasn’t so much a shortage of time, but lack of organization and a written plan.
From the interviews I’ve read, there have been periods when Sly planned and implemented his own workout routines, but he has also relied heavily on coaching by trainers throughout his career. For the movie The Expendables 3, he worked with trainer Gunnar Peterson to achieve the results he was after.
The primary advantages of coaching are efficiency and accountability. Sure, we could hunt through countless websites, magazines and books, for the the perfect workout routine. And if our time is worth nothing, we may save a few bucks.
A trainer and mentor can make all the difference. Research suggests that people that put their own workout routines together tend to hop from one plan to the next, rarely giving any routine enough time to produce the satisfying results that lead to sustainability. And they are far less likely to stick to a program, because the only one they’re accountable to is themselves.
Again, if you take a cross-section of people this world considers successful: athletes, actors, models, high level executives, top professionals, entrepreneurs, etc., a very high percentage of these people will be very active networkers, or they have someone that manages their public relations and connections for them.
The celebrity all-stars in almost every pursuit do not have a large network because they are rich and famous. Rather, they became so successful because of they are brilliant networkers.
Of course, there are a few “exceptions” here as well, and the usual excuses:
If you don't feel that networking is "you," you're not alone. Getting out there and asking people we know to help us connect with new people in their circles does not come naturally to most of us. Contacting strangers is also challenging for most. It certainly hasn’t been easy for me.
Great leaders are great networkers.
- Kevin Eikenberry
If networking isn't one of your "personality traits," you need to rise above that excuse if you want to reach your business goals.
“Build a better mouse trap, and people will beat a path to your door,” for the record, is bullshit advice. Reality check: People will not come looking for a solution they do not know exists, from someone they’ve never heard of.
Design a better mouse trap, market it like crazy to get the word out, become a top authority and thought leader in the industry, and you may actually make it.
Don't expect the world to come to you. People buy from people they know, like and trust. For thousands of years, successful networkers have had a larger circle of people that knew who they were, liked them and trusted them enough to trade with them.
Just like physical fitness, networking will require serious effort to build a strong base. But once a foundation has been laid, it takes a lot less effort to maintain momentum.
And the incredible thing is, as your content gains a following, others will help promote you online, building your network and influence.
When it comes to health and fitness, you personally have to eat the right foods, get adequate rest and put in the time in the gym. In online networking, you can hire someone to blog for you, post in social channels, engage and make new connections. They do much of the heavy lifting, but you get all the networking muscles, the admiration and financial gains.
Old school advertising isn’t working for many businesses any more and they need a stream of fresh leads desperately.
Networking is not new. Customers have always bought from people they knew, liked and trusted. And they always will. Some years back, a large Rolodex was the central hub of every influencer’s network, and connections were made over the phone or face-to-face. Countless thousands of average business people believed that "new technology" was not for them. LinkedIn may be "the new Rolodex", but it won't fill itself with connections any more than the old rotary card files did.
Today, networks are usually built online. As you've probably already discovered, throwing your profile online will not deliver a flood of prospective buyers eager to connect with you.
When you consider the lifetime value of a new customer, and how many of them may be choosing competitors that are very actively involved in online networking, you may have some serious catching up to do. A coach can help bridge the gap between where you are today and where you need to be, holding you accountable for staying on track in order to achieve your 2015 goals.
The desired results may be different, but the excuses are the same: it doesn't align with who I am, I will live with the consequences just to avoid going outside my comfort zone, I have different time priorities, and I don't want to invest in or commit myself to working with a mentor.
A goal, even with a plan, is worthless without the activity to get the job done. Consistent moderate effort, in health and networking, delivers the most dependable results. A massive spurt of activity, right after New Year's, usually accomplishes little.
Avoiding discomfort or investment will always be the easiest route, with the most costly consequences in the end. As we enter the final month of this year, I'm taking a hard look at my own networking results, and will be mapping out a strategy for serious improvement.
I welcome your comments. Do you have a success story to share, or a commitment you're making to expanding your network in the new year?
Cole Wiebe helps brands and professionals grow their influence and value online; so they can “out content”™ their competition. Cole is a content strategist, content writer, conversion copywriter and online marketing coach.