In today’s episode, I’m going to tell you how to build an epic business network!
This is so important. I’m sure you know the saying in business, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” and in online business, that’s even more true.
We need to get about building your business network so that you can experience the amazing benefits (including making more money, getting more clients, fast-tracking your business growth, and more!).
Let’s dive in…
Particularly for heart-centred entrepreneurs (people who are very empathic and may be introverted), we can resist leaning into this idea of building a business network because networking of old felt a bit yucky. It feels very transactional and as though we’re using other people.
As women, non-binary folk, people who have been marginalised, and people who’ve experienced being used before, we don’t lean into this concept of building our business network as readily.
In fact, we resist it, thinking that building our business network or doing any kind of networking is literally just looking for people to use.
We can miss out on some of the amazing benefits that come from having a great business network and connecting with people.
It’s very similar to resistance to marketing.
I talk about consent-based marketing as a way to resolve resistance to marketing. This is because the problem is not marketing – it’s the way that you’ve seen people market or the way that you’ve been marketed to. And actually, if you create a marketing approach that’s consent-based and heart-centred, you aren’t as resistant to marketing, because you’re not doing those things to other people.
It’s the same with networking.
The problem is not networking. The problem is the way that (mostly) straight white dudes have role-modelled networking before… The old boys club.
Networking was seen as very exclusionary, rather than the thing that it could be for us, which is creating an amazing posse of biz besties, friends, referrers and people that we can support and be supported by.
Ultimately, if you see networking as a two-way exchange, and recognise that you’re going to build a business network that is based on it being beneficial for both sides, then that can help overcome a lot of that resistance to networking in the first place.
When it comes to networking, my approach is: Who can I help? Rather than: What can I get from my network?
I want to find more and more people that I can help.
It’s reflected in the way that I go to events.
I love going to business networking events but I don’t really want to go on my own. Even though I’m a raging extrovert, I don’t love going to things on my own where I don’t know a single person. Instead, I’ll buy four tickets and then just recruit a little posse.
But even when I go on my own, the first thing I do when I walk in the door is focus on: Who am I going to help to build their business network here today?
I don’t even build my network by asking myself who I can add to my business network. I build my network by asking myself who I can help to build their network.
Often, I will adopt the most introverted person in the room.
If there’s someone standing in the corner with a cup of tea on their own, that is the person I take under my wing. (I call myself an introvert adopter.)
One of the first questions that I’ll ask after approaching them is: ‘Why are you here today? What did you want to get out of today?’
A great story for this is when I first moved to the Sunshine Coast.
I went to a bunch of networking events, business dinners and breakfasts, and one time I went to an event where I met an amazing lady. She was a bookkeeper and a tax accountant, and I did the same thing with her.
She was standing in the corner (invariably, there’s always someone standing at the side with a cup of tea) looking at her phone and having a cup of tea.
Both hands were full, and it was clear she was trying to send the message that she was not lonely. But I could see that she was looking a little awkward so I went over to have a chat with her, and I asked her that question.
Her response was, ‘I want to start working with more women entrepreneurs and people who have solo businesses. They don’t necessarily have huge budgets and huge turnovers, but we can make a lot of gains for them from a tax perspective and from setting business goals and getting more and more income coming in. I really love working with people who have a lot of potential in their business.’
I said, ‘Great, let’s do that! Let’s go and meet some people together.’
So we went and walked around the room, and when we would approach a group I’d introduce my new friend and tell them about what she does and who she serves.
This was a mutually beneficial situation.
For starters, she became a very strong business bestie of mine, and we’re still great friends today.
But also, I was able to enter circles with ease. Even though I’m an extrovert, I don’t love breaking up a circular conversation and being self-centred. It feels yucky interrupting everyone because I want to be part of the conversation.
But if I interrupt the circle to introduce someone, it feels far easier for me.
When we look at networking as a way to support other people, as much as it is a way to get support for ourselves, I think that really helps to overcome some of that resistance.
In addition to just helping you get over the resistance to networking because it is very beneficial for your business, I’ve got 10 tips on how you can build your business network.
Let’s get into those 10 ways to build an EPIC business network…
1. Be giving and give first
This is exactly the example that I gave you of the event that I went to.
If I have people in my industry that I would love to have more of a connection with, I will find ways to be giving first.
If it’s someone whose book I’ve read and love, I might invite them to be interviewed on my podcast. That’s giving them increased audience, exposure and probably book sales.
When I start a relationship from that perspective:
1. It feels far easier for me (and also less awkward)
2. They’re far more likely to be onboard
3. I feel like we create a relationship based on reciprocity and mutual benefit because I’m not attached to getting anything in return
Just being able to interview them for my podcast and ask them questions about their business is return enough for me.
If you don’t have a podcast, you could do a YouTube interview series, or you could invite them onto a Facebook or Instagram Live.
Not everyone is going to say yes, but that’s a great way for me to feel like I’m giving first when I’m creating a relationship.
There are other ways that you can be giving first…
You could be giving by providing some feedback on something or giving them a shout-out.
If there are people that I would really love to have as part of my business network, I tag them several times, giving them praise, or I’ll share something that they shared because I loved it.
That is creating momentum for them. But it also is building this beautiful relationship.
That’s my first piece of advice – be giving and give first.
I know that that might feel like you’re always giving and never receiving in return. But that is rarely the case.
The more that you have a belief that you’re always giving and you never get anything in return, the more that you collect evidence of that, and the more that you make that true. You’re manifesting that reality.
If that’s the case for you, you may like to use some affirmations such as, ‘I’m very generous and giving to my network and I receive beautiful benefits in return.’
Take that as your belief instead of believing that you never get anything in return.
The more that you decide you never get anything in return, the less you’re going to get in return.
2. Be intentional
This is an important one. Because of the way that I approach building my business network, I don’t want to be spending 20 hours a week on building my network.
I need to be intentional about what I’m doing, how much I give and why I might be expanding my business network in a certain way.
Let me give you some ideas of how this intentionality might show up…
You might go to some networking events, and 95% of the people there are not your kind of people. If that’s the case, don’t go again. Don’t do it. Be intentional.
Don’t have FOMO that you’re going to miss out on that 5%. Because by saying yes to going to that one again, you’re saying no to something else.
Be intentional about the rooms that you’re going to be in. Be intentional about the types of people that you’re going to approach.
When I first started my business, I intentionally did not reach out to super big names and leaders in the industry. I started with people a couple of steps ahead of me, because those people were far more likely to say yes to an interview with someone with a smaller audience than them.
They were far more likely to see me as a peer after our first couple of interactions than someone who was miles ahead and the most famous person in the industry.
But as my business and success grew, so did the business level that I would be approaching.
I became far more confident in inviting bigger names onto my podcast because I had already done 150 episodes of my podcast with a consistent 2,000-3,000 people per episode listening.
At that point, I felt far more confident reaching out to some of those big names.
I think sometimes we try and go too big too soon. We get 1,000 rejections and we make it mean that no one in the industry is willing to be friends with us or wants to collaborate in helping someone else out.
But that’s not the case, it’s just that you haven’t necessarily been intentional about who it is that you’re approaching, the rooms that you’re going to be in, and whether this feels like it’s a fair and equal energetic exchange.
That’s my second tip to build an amazing business network – be intentional!
3. Release your expectations and reduce the pressure
As John Farnham says, take the pressure down.
The more pressure that you put on getting some kind of return, the tenser you’ll be about building that business network and the more you’ll be collecting evidence that people don’t give back.
We don’t want to muddy your perception of people in your industry or the network that you’re building simply because a couple of people let you down.
Hold it very lightly and release the expectation that every single relationship is going to be perfectly balanced in terms of benefit.
Sometimes the benefit that I get from giving to one person comes back in value from another person.
It’s not always 50% your way and 50% their way with every single individual.
Instead of looking at things individually, I look at them as a cloud. My business network is not a series of one-to-one relationships. It’s a big webby cloud.
That means that sometimes things take a little while to come back around. Sometimes things go through someone else to come back around.
For example, I had a lovely relationship with someone who I really admired and respected in the industry, and I never really had any expectation of a return from them.
I did a couple of shout-outs to them, I had them on my podcast, and I promoted their book when they did a book launch.
They never really asked if there was anything they could do for me in return, and they never shared anything that I had posted. That was fine because I didn’t put any pressure on it and I didn’t have any expectations.
Nine months later, I had a $10,000 VIP client sign up to work with me. When I talked to this client, I asked them how they heard about me. And they told me that they had asked the person I had given a lot to if they would mentor them, but they don’t do one-to-one mentoring so they sent this client my way.
It wasn’t a direct return on investment, but it was a return on investment of my time.
You never know what people are saying about you, or the kind of things that people are sharing about you out there in the universe.
Release those expectations. Take the pressure down. We don’t need to have everything be exactly equal in terms of giving versus receiving in the business network.
For me, I just aim to be more giving.
I know that the more I give, the more I’m going to get in return anyway. But I can’t control how much I get in return.
If I just focus on being super giving, then I know energetically and karmically it’s all going to come back to me at some point.
That helps me to release those expectations. Particularly on an individual basis as well.
4. Quality over quantity
At a networking event that I went to, there were a bunch of people who were going around and asking for people’s business cards. There were no meaningful conversations with anyone, they were just card collectors.
The next day, I got an email from six different business dudes asking to meet for a coffee. I didn’t even remember which one was which.
We hadn’t had any depth of conversation. Yes, they’d collected my card. But did that actually mean that there was any benefit to us catching up later? I don’t think so, and I wasn’t particularly interested.
If I don’t have a meaningful conversation with someone but they take my card and ask to grab a coffee, I will rarely say yes.
Unless they do a bit of research and mention something that makes it obvious they’ve paid attention, it’s very rare that I would actually meet up with a card collector.
(By the way, there were also people who collected cards and then just added us all to their mailing list. That’s illegal. They never got consent and that’s an instant unsubscribe-never-gonna-talk-to-you from me.)
Don’t be a card collector.
Now when I go to networking events, I don’t have cards. Sometimes I’ll have them for larger-scale events, but for smaller events, I won’t carry cards.
The reason why I do that is that if I’m having a conversation with someone and I know that I want to take this relationship further, I will just open my calendar and ask when they’re free to grab a coffee.
If it sounds like you could really help each other out, simply ask them if they want to have a coffee and book it then and there.
If I give them my card, it’s in their hands. I have to wait for them to email me. Even if we swap cards, it then creates all this uncertainty around who’s emailing first and it can so easily fall down the priority list.
I stopped taking cards quite a few years ago now and I actually did it through the lens of forcing myself to have deeper conversations.
What I noticed was that when someone would ask for my card and I’d give it to them, it would always end the conversation.
This links back to the quality over quantity thing. I didn’t want to go to an event and dish out as many cards as possible.
I wanted to build meaningful relationships.
Now, if someone asks me for my card and I say that I don’t have one but I’m happy to take theirs, it then opens up this channel for me to ask them questions about themself and keep the conversation going.
If I’m excited about what they tell me about themself and their business, we’ll book a future chat. Everyone has their calendar on their phone so I’d rather we just get our phones out and lock something in.
Those relationships are far more likely to get meaningful quickly, and we’re far more likely to find ways that we can help each other.
And right there I’ve got quality over quantity!
So don’t be a card collector. And don’t be a card thrower-outerer. Don’t just go and throw out as many cards as possible.
I used to work in a consulting firm where we used to be measured based on that. ‘How many cards did you get? And how many cards did you give?’
I got reprimanded once for a big event where I only gave out five cards, and I only got six cards from other people.
Other people had given out 50 cards, so I got reprimanded. But let’s see the extent to which each of us develops relationships that result in income for the business…
The five cards that I gave out (my five deep relationships) all turned into clients. All five of them.
Still to this day, it flabbergasts me that the owner of the business couldn’t see the benefit of that.
We were always measured on quantity, not quality.
As an entrepreneur and business owner myself now, I would rather spend less time on quality relationships, than fill my calendar with a bunch of meaningless coffee dates that never go anywhere, or that end up in a little bit of a stalemate.
Have you ever gone to a coffee catch-up after a networking event and realised they just want to sell to you? They’re not interested in getting to know you as a person, and they’re not interested in helping you unless you pay them.
I had so many of those in my early days of doing networking stuff. I think that’s why it’s created this quality-over-quantity approach for me because I’m not a time waster. I’m a very lazy person and I like to be efficient.
I’m not into going out there and putting a bra on and meeting with people when they are not interested in building a meaningful relationship.
That’s my fourth tip for building your business network… focus on quality over quantity.
5. Set up a system so that you’re reconnecting and touching base regularly
If you’re going to go to the effort of building your business network, ensure that you nurture that network.
Just like you would nurture your audience when people first join your list, networks need to be nurtured as well.
I have a little business network database that I review once a month and touch base with people that I haven’t touched base with in a while.
I love using the Pomodoro method. A Pomodoro method is where you work in 25 minutes sprints with a five-minute break.
One Pom is a 25-minute work sprint. In one Pom, I can nurture and touch base with 30 to 50 people in my network because it’s systemised and it’s really easy for me to see when our last contact was, who the person is, what they’re working on, etc.
It’s really easy for me to keep nurturing those relationships.
Those relationships are responsible for so much of my business success, particularly in the early days.
Even to this day, so much of my growth in my business comes from referrals, recommendations, networks, joint venture stuff, and podcast swaps.
It can take a little time and nurturing for people to feel like you’re a good fit. A lot of people are just like me. I don’t invite people onto my podcast lightly. If someone cold pitches to come on my podcast, they will not be invited on my podcast.
But if I have someone come into my business network, I get to know them, they get to know me, and we’re still friends and we still think it’s valuable, then they are far more likely to get invited on to my podcast.
(Hot tip out there if you want to be on my podcast!)
Make sure to touch base regularly and set up a system to make sure that you do that.
6. Connect others in
This is another one that I don’t always understand (which is particularly common among men in the business world) where they keep their business network very close to their chest. They like to keep their best connections secret and protected.
I’m just not that kind of person.
If I can introduce you to someone who I think will help you, I will create that connection. I’m not afraid to create that connection.
I don’t see my network networking with other people as a loss for me. It’s not a competition.
I am very good at connecting people in with others.
With the tax accountant that I met at the Sunshine Coast networking event, still to this day, if I meet someone who I think will be great for her, I connect them straight in.
I’m a connector of connectors.
Sometimes, my business network is not directly beneficial to me. But knowing a great web developer means that when someone in my network needs a good web developer, I’ve got a good recommendation.
That’s important to me to be able to give people advice on who’s good at this, who’s good at that, and what to watch out for.
I love connecting people with each other.
My business network is not just me in a series of one-to-one relationships. Instead, I see it as a giant web connecting us all in.
I value being able to connect different people in my network with each other, without me needing to be part of that conversation or part of that relationship.
I don’t have FOMO, I don’t have fear of missing out on the conversation (unless they’re going to a party or something!).
Consistently connecting people in is part of the ‘be giving’ part.
That’s adding to that give-first mentality and the value that I’m putting into my network. I know it’s going to come back to me in a positive way at some point.
That’s my sixth business network tip – connect others in with each other.
7. Nurture your top supporters
This is an interesting one, because sometimes (especially in hierarchical or patriarchal perceptions of relationships and businesses) we are told that we need to keep distance from our customers, audience, and clients. “I’m up here, you’re down here. We are not peers.”
In hierarchical belief systems and ways of working in the business world (the masculine orientated), if you see someone as a peer, you can’t be above them. You’re climbing up the ladder trying to clamber over each other.
If you have someone who follows you or is in your audience, you’re incentivised to keep them beneath you in that kind of perception.
I don’t view my audience, business or relationships that way. There’s no hierarchy.
Instead, I see it as this equal playing field. We’re all on the same level.
Yes, I might have more followers on social media than you. But you are far more adept at solving technology problems.
We are all whole human beings. No one is better than anyone else.
I don’t see anyone in my audience as beneath me. I see everyone as a peer.
What that means is that if someone is following me as an audience member, and I see them as a peer, I’m unafraid to create a deeper connection with that person and nurture that relationship without the expectation of them becoming a paying client.
Similarly, I will never make someone feel less than
How many people have you been a client to before, and they’ve made you very aware that you’re beneath them? They make it clear over and over again that you are their client, not a peer. I’ve had that experience a lot in business.
For me, if I have someone who is a client, that is a peer-to-peer relationship. It is not a dominant/subordinate relationship. It’s not hierarchical. It is networked. It is relational. Therefore, I can nurture those relationships and bring those people into my network as a peer, without fear or worry that they will respect me less, or they’ll never buy anything ever again because we’re peers.
That’s the fear-based part of hierarchical business structures and systems.
Rather than seeing it as hierarchical-therefore-keep-distance, I try to create as little distance as possible between those people around me, particularly for my top supporters.
Whether those top supporters are paying customers or not, I want to nurture and reward that relationship. They might be a great supporter because they comment so consistently on my socials, or I know that they’ve referred people to me before, or they’re just a brilliant client and whatever I offer they buy.
Rather than keeping them below me (thinking that will make them more likely to buy from me), I actually nurture that relationship and, as much as possible, make everyone feel like a peer.
That makes a significant difference in the way that those relationships are perceived.
But it also makes a significant difference to the energetic exchange that happens.
That’s a big one for me in terms of networking. It also means my network is far more powerful than a network where you’ve got to keep people organised and separated. “This person is above me, and I want to be their peer. But this person is below me, and they want to be my peer but I’m not going to let them because that means that they won’t buy from me anymore, or they won’t see me as someone to be respected and admired anymore.”
That’s actually a thing!!
If we view every other human being as a peer, then we stop needing to be better than anyone.
It’s such a relief! We stop needing to earn more than anyone. We stopped needing to compare ourselves to anyone.
Instead, we just get to experience the joy and awesomeness of being able to support each other in our own zones of genius.
For example, if I have a client who’s a website developer and I’m teaching them how to grow their business, hierarchical business would say I could never buy from that person because then that would put us on an equal playing field and they would no longer see me as a mentor, they would only see me as a peer… and somehow that is a bad thing.
But in that network model of seeing everyone as a peer, they can buy from me for business mentoring, and I can buy a website design from them. Because their zone of genius is web design, my zone of genius is business strategy.
Why should we only ever work one way? Why does someone have to be on top?
What ends up happening when we do this peer-to-peer networking model, is we end up being able to give far and receive far more value.
That tip is a bit of an out-there one compared to what you may have heard before about networking and building relationships. So many networking trainers and mentors out there (mostly male but not all) will talk about networking up “Don’t network down, network up”. I think that’s disgusting. I think that devalues the very audience that you want to build more connection with – your followers, your audience, and your buyers.
Why would you want to keep them down as part of your strategy to grow your business?
It doesn’t actually make logical sense to me. I can see why some people might think that that makes sense. But that makes sense if you look at everything through fear, and keeping things in a hierarchy. And I don’t like hierarchy, so we’re not going to do it.
8. Know and protect your boundaries.
With all of these things that I said (be giving, be generous, everyone’s a peer) it may be easy for you to think that it’s going to be overwhelming and you’re going to have to spend 99% of your day doing free stuff for people in your network.
This is where having great boundaries in place is very effective and helpful.
Yes, I’m very giving and helpful to my audience, but I don’t teach them or coach them for free. That’s my boundary.
I don’t do one-to-one mentoring for free just because we met at a networking event.
I’m very clear on my boundaries in that way. Yes, I love reciprocal relationships – I love going on coffee dates. But I also protect my time boundaries around that.
I only accept three to four invitations a quarter to meet up in real life with an individual. Therefore, because I’m clear on the numbers, I have to prioritise and focus on those relationships that are going to be the most valuable for both of us. The ones that are going to be the deepest connection, and the ones where I see we’ve got a lot that we could do for each other.
That time boundary makes me prioritise.
Not doing free one-on-one business coaching gives a boundary around giving away for free what I would normally charge for.
I will happily refer them off to people, I will happily talk to them about working together as a paid client if that’s something that they want from me, and I will happily pay them for their services as well.
That’s the whole two-way thing, right?
Because I have boundaries around not giving away business mentoring for free, I also don’t ask people to fix my website for free. I don’t ask people to give me a quick acupuncture session for free.
That’s their business.
If we are friends, if we are in a network together, I’m the person who should be paying you the most, not the person who’s paying you the least. I want to support you and if I want your services, I pay for them. I absolutely pay for them.
This also works very well for protecting my boundaries from network buyers.
A network buyer for me is someone who sends me something or wants to give to me something for free out of the blue.
Seeing as I do have a larger audience these days, I will often get messages from people saying, “I create beautiful earrings and I’ve got these earrings that I think will be perfect for you. They’re so on-brand for you. I’d love to gift them to you.”
I actually have a boundary around that.
I don’t accept a lot of free gifts, and I definitely don’t accept them cold.
The reason why I do that now is that I once had that experience (literally with earrings). Someone said that they had beautiful earrings they wanted to send to me so I accepted the offer and sent her my address. Two days before the earrings arrived, she sent me a message asking if I’d received the earrings. I told her that they hadn’t arrived yet but I’d let her know when they did.
I then got the earrings but didn’t message her straightaway that day. That night, she sent me a message saying, “Oh it looks like you’ve received the earrings. You didn’t tell me you got them. Have you got them?”
I got the message the next morning and told her I’d received them and that I was very grateful. They weren’t something that I’d wear for business but they would be nice to wear out to brunch.
Three days after that, I got another message saying, “Hey I’m just wondering, are you going to give me a shout-out for the earrings that I gave you?”
My response was really upfront. I just played dumb. I said, “Oh, I’m so sorry. Did you mention something about me giving you a shout-out? My understanding was that you just wanted to send them to me as a gift. Did I misunderstand?”
She responded with, “Oh, no, no, no. Yes, it is a gift. But I just thought it would be nice if you gave me a shout-out because you’ve got such a big audience.”
And I told her that if that’s the reason she sent them to me then I’m sorry.
That’s not something that I’m going to do.
It was so awkward! But I wanted to keep my boundaries strong around that. And so thus was born my ‘I don’t accept a lot of free gifts’ policy.
I do make some exceptions from time to time, especially from people who are very close in my network and who know something’s going on with me at a certain time.
I’ve had people reach out when I was recovering from surgery and say, “I know you’re recovering from your surgery, no strings attached I do this really cool meditation thing. I’d love to send it through to you. Would you be interested?”
If I am, I will say yes. But I am also very clear that I’m not going to be giving them free promotion. I make sure that that’s okay, and let them know that if not, I’m happy to pay for it if it’s something I’m interested in.
Most of those people don’t want anything in return, they just want to gift me something.
That being said, 95% of offers that I get for free stuff, I will decline. But I have a really lovely way of declining them.
It’s the same thing with swaps.
People ask me about swaps a lot. I don’t do exchanges. But I have a really great way of replying to them.
Whenever anyone asks me about boundaries in networking and freebies, this is what I tell them…
If anyone cold offers me free earrings now (earrings must be a big part of my brand because I do get offered earrings a lot!), I will say:
“Thank you so much for thinking of me. I love beautiful earrings! Clearly, you know that about me. Send me the link and I’ll check them out.”
If they look like something that would be a fit, I’ll buy them.
I’m not obligated to buy it, but if I want to then I do. I’d rather buy it and have my money be the energy exchange than my shout-out be the energy exchange when I don’t necessarily know if they’re good.
I’m not a beauty influencer giving shout-outs for earrings over and over again. Doing it out of obligation never feels as honest and never feels as clean.
I always just ask them to send me the link so I can check them out. If I love them, I’ll buy them.
Similarly, if someone says they want to join my Take Off program but can’t afford it so they’d like to redo my website in exchange, I won’t accept that.
I’ll tell them that I don’t do exchanges but I’d love to receive a link for their services (if I’m in the market for a website update) so that I can see if it’s a good fit for me to purchase it.
I make it clear that there’s no pressure to buy the Take Off program.
If I’m not looking for my website to be updated, I’ll be upfront about that but tell them that I’ll reach out in the future if I am.
It’s really beautiful. It maintains the relationship, and it’s setting and reinforcing those boundaries nicely and with kindness.
Often people will want to gift me something and I end up buying it.
I had someone who wanted to gift me some clothes for tall women (I’m 6’2″). I told her that I don’t accept gifts like that but I’d love to find out more because I’m always on the lookout for tall labels. In the end, I spent $250 buying clothes from her… and I still gave her a shout-out!
I’m in a couple of groups for tall women, and in those groups, I took photos and shared the amazing clothes that I got from this lady and recommended that other tall women check her out.
That was definitely a benefit to that person. But they didn’t need to give me clothes for free.
Know and protect those boundaries.
Not just in what you’re going to give but also in what you’re going to receive.
As highly generous people heart-centred people, the last thing we want to do is have an unfair energy exchange on their part – feeling like we’ve robbed someone and we haven’t given anything in return.
Guilt is not helpful. It just gives you heartburn.
I’m mindful of boundaries both ways.
I don’t cross other people’s boundaries in a way that I wouldn’t want someone crossing mine. I don’t like people asking me for free stuff so I don’t ask other people for free stuff.
There’s a boundary that I have around free mentoring and coaching, so I never take free mentoring and coaching.
I don’t take free stuff. I’d rather pay for it.
I’m in a very privileged position that I can pay for it. But I actually found that my income grew and my capacity to buy stuff increased the more I said no to free stuff.
9. Don’t discount people too quickly
I’ve had this happen to me over and over again where people have written me off because I didn’t immediately return on investment in the network (I didn’t immediately send them dozens of clients).
But sometimes relationships take a little while to build. Sometimes people don’t know who to refer to you straight away.
The amazing thing is that once your Reticular Activating System is activated, you start seeing opportunities.
For example, I’ll meet someone who tells me they sleep train children, and at the time I don’t know anyone who needs that, but then I start seeing more and more people who are talking about needing to sleep train their children. Once that happens, I then know who to refer them to.
Sometimes it takes a little while for it to return. Sometimes people are busy and take a while to get to things.
If you’re really putting pressure on expectations and you need a return quickly, then often you’ll never get to experience some of the most fruitful relationships because you wrote that person off far too soon.
That’s my ninth business network tip.
10. Practice powerful requests
We need to practice asking for what we want and asking for what we need.
We don’t just need to practice it because we’re so hesitant to lean in and ask for help, we also need to practice it because when you’re not skilled or practised at asking, the way you ask can be clunky. It can be difficult for people to say yes.
Let’s say I’m asking someone to come on my podcast. I don’t send them six forms to fill in in order to say yes to being on my podcast. I first make the request – laying out how many people will listen to the podcast, where and how I distribute it, how this would benefit them as a guest, etc.
In order for them to say yes, all they need to do is send through their calendar so that I can book it directly with them (or they can get a member of their team to reach out).
For people who are in that echelon of business, I know they’re not managing their own calendar. They’re not booking their own gigs. They’re not the one who is going to fill in the form. So why am I sending it to them?
I make it as easy as possible for them to say yes.
If there are things that I need once they say yes, I ask for that second. I get the yes first before I ask for the next piece.
In asking for the next piece, I also make it as easy as possible for them.
Practice those powerful requests and practice making it easy, smooth, and streamlined.
Be clear on what you need and what you want.
That does take a bit of practice and nuance. If you go from ‘I never ask for anything’ to ‘I’m asking 60 people today to platform me on their social media’, the way that you ask is going to be a little bit clunky, and you’re not going to understand some of the nuances.
Just like you might not have realised that if you cold pitch me to be on my podcast, you’ll get a no.
If I don’t know who you are, if we don’t have a relationship, if I’ve never heard of you before, it’s a no.
It’s easy for us to build a relationship. It’s easy for me to get to know you.
To this day, most of the time when people follow me on Instagram or Facebook, I go and check them out.
Even with thousands of followers, I still go and check everyone out because I love getting to know people’s businesses. But I need to see your name a few times before you ask to come on my podcast. Not just the first time.
I also don’t say yes to cold pitches from people who send someone on their behalf.
I’ll often get a pitch that says “Hi, I would like to introduce to you XXX. I think they’d be a great match for the [insert podcast name here].” (Sometimes they even forget to put the name of the podcast in there!)
I know that they’ve engaged someone to go and pitch to hundreds of thousands of podcasts for them. I’m just a cog in their machine. Is that going to be a reciprocal relationship? No.
I just say a direct no to those things.
A lot of big-name podcasts (I’m not a big-name podcast) have the same policy.
If someone else is reaching out on your behalf, and I have never heard of you before, it is a flat no. Cold pitches are a flat no.
People do that for a reason because we’re seen as a target.
The bigger your audience gets, the more people want to get access to your audience.
Lucky for you (being part of the Heart-Centred community), I give you direct access to my audience every day. I give you an opportunity to promote a paid product every Tuesday.
You get access to my audience readily and instantly, simply by joining the Heart-Centred community.
I’ve even had people reach out to me because they see the number of people in the Heart-Centred community and there are dollar signs in their eyes.
I’ve had people reach out to me who are not members of the Heart-Centred community, but who have reached out to me and said, “Hi, I absolutely love that you’re working with heart-centred soul-driven entrepreneurs. I think I can really add value to your audience. Would you be willing to promote my upcoming webinar?”
Wait a second… You want me to promote your webinar when you haven’t joined and promoted it yourself? You want me to do your marketing for you? And you’re not even part of the community?
It blows my mind!
Of course, my answer is that they don’t need me to promote it, they can just join the group and promote it themself.
Some people get a bit snippy with me about that because their post won’t get as much reach. But that’s the whole point of having a community like this. The people who are the most consistent, give the most value and are the most trustworthy are the ones who get the most reach in that community because they are contributing to the community.
The Heart-Centred, Soul-Driven Entrepreneurs community is not some random pond that you can just go fish in without ever contributing to.
It’s a community. It is so fair and it is so brilliant because those people who are the most active, giving and consistent, and who build lots and lots of trust, are the ones who get the best reach and have the best success in the community.
It’s such a true meritocracy, based on a combination of merit based on your expertise and merit based on your contribution to the community. I love it! It’s so fair. (In case you can’t tell, my moon sign is Libra.)
They are my 10 tips for building an epic business network.
You might think that they’re already great tips and there’s nothing I can do to top that. But there’s one thing that underpins all of this and that is critical to being able to do all of these 10 things…
Being in the room.
Just like the Heart-Centred community is not a place where you can just jump in, fish a bunch of leads and jump out. Similarly, building a business network doesn’t happen that way.
You don’t just magically get access and build a business network at a distance. You need to be in the room.
Things like being part of the Heart-Centred community and being active in there is powerful in building your business network.
Another thing that we do in the Heart-Centred community, is we have meetups. The people who facilitate, run and put the effort into organising those meetups see a lot of benefit because they’re seen as a leader inside the community.
Similarly, there are other rooms that you need to be in in order to access the kinds of people who are in that room.
I talk about this a lot with the Heart-Centred Business Conference.
So many people wish that they had biz besties and a strong business network of people who are light-hearted and heart-centred. I’ve created a conference where that’s exactly who is in the room. And yet, I get lots of people saying they don’t go to conferences unless they’re speaking on stage.
But you’ve got to be in the room to be selected to be on stage.
Most of the speakers for the Heart-Centred Business Conference (unless they’re already big industry leaders) have already been to the Heart-Centred Business Conference as an attendee.
It still gobsmacks me how many brash, self-confident requests and demands I get from people to be on stage at the Heart-Centred Business Conference.
I recently had someone who said, “Oh my gosh, I’ve just discovered your conference. I’m so excited to gift your audience with my presence. I need you to know I’m going to be on that stage and speaking to people at that conference because I have so much value to give the people in that room.”
In my response, I simply told them that the best way to be selected as a speaker for the Heart-Centred Business Conference is to buy a ticket because we have a PitchFest opportunity to become a speaker. But also, when I select speakers for next year, the first place I look is who was in the room this year.
The amount of people who say that they don’t go to conferences as an attendee, they only go as a speaker, absolutely astounds me.
There must be someone out there teaching that as a strategy.
It blows me away whenever I get that audacious response. Good on them for standing in their power, but they will never speak on stage at my conference.
If that’s the outcome that they want, they’re going the wrong way about getting it.
The reason why I do it this way is that the Heart-Centred Business Conference has a very different vibe from other conferences.
There’s no selling from the stage, it’s very deeply connected, it’s roundtables, we facilitate discussions, it is a peer-to-peer relationship, and there’s no hierarchy.
People need to have experienced that in a lot of cases to really understand it.
In order to be a great speaker at Conference, they need to understand Conference. They need to understand our community.
I don’t pick people to be on stage lightly. Curating the speaker lineup for the Heart-Centred Business Conference is an important job.
Just like being in the room at Conference increases your likelihood of being a speaker at Conference, being in the room at a lot of these things is the first step to building your business network.
If you never go to events, you’re going to have a smaller business network.
If you never buy the ticket to the dance, you won’t have as many dance partners. That’s just the reality of it.
Some of those rooms have a fee. You need to pay to be in the room at the Heart-Centred Business Conference. But is it worth it? Oh my goodness, yes it is.
Similarly, there are some other events that you’ll have to pay for.
Sometimes being in the room means joining a mastermind with people who are a few steps ahead of you in their business or who you would normally have seen as a leader. But in order for you to build a peer-to-peer relationship, you need to join the thing that they’ve joined.
That’s where joining masterminds, joining courses, and being an active part of communities is effective and gives you the opportunity to do these 10 things.
You can’t do these 10 business network growth things if you’re never in the room with other people.
Whether that be the virtual room or the physical room.
If you think this is very exciting and you do know that building your business network is an important part of your business growth, then the first question to ask before you do any of these 10 things is: Which rooms do I need to be in? Which rooms do I prioritise?
Because not all rooms are created equal.
Sometimes you need to be in there to realise that it’s not a great one. But being in the room consistently is critical.
Before I even made a cent in my business, I made a commitment to go to two conferences or larger events every year. Partly because I’m an extrovert and it really lights me up. But also because I knew that in business, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.
I was fresh to the online business world, I only had one person I knew who had an online business. I didn’t have a relationship with anyone else so I knew I needed to make friends and needed to build my business network.
Physically being in the room was something that I needed to prioritise.
I went to:
- Business networking breakfasts
- Keynote speaker events
I also joined masterminds and courses where I got to know my peers because those relationships are critical.
They have had such an epic impact on my business growth. It is immeasurable financially.
If you think about all the things you’re doing to grow your audience, it’s an accelerant because you’re doing all the things to grow your audience whilst also creating this business network of people who are also contributing to that.
It just multiplies the impact of all of your marketing and sales activities, to have this beautiful business network of people who are helping you to do the same and want to see you succeed.
As we know, a rising tide lifts all ships.
I know this has been a loooonnngg episode, but I did want to go into this one in-depth because I think it is critical.
We underestimate the value of our business network.
As I talked about at the start of the episode, we also have seen networking done really sleazily and really grossly, so we’ve decided that networking is not for us. But networking is not the problem. It’s the type of networking that you’ve seen in the past.
Hopefully, this has got you excited and inspired to build your business network.
If you do want to be in the room, there are two rooms that I would invite you to join in particular:
Room 1: The Heart-Centred, Soul-Driven Entrepreneurs community
If you’re not there, come and join us. If you’re there but you’re very quiet and you’re a lurker, be more active so that you can build your business network.
To join, head to tashcorbin.com/group
Room 2: The Heart-Centred Business Conference
The 2023 Heart-Centred Business Conference will be held in Noosa, Australia in May.
In 2024, Conference will be in September.
You can find all the details of our upcoming Conference here: heartcentredbusinessconference.com/
You can also go to my website and click on the Events tab to see any other rooms that you might be able to be part of so that you can build your business network and accelerate your business growth.
Until next time, I cannot WAIT to see you SHINE.