The advent of the digital revolution and social networks has had a huge impact on the number of people we are connected to. I encourage everyone to take a moment to think about the people we know personally. Imagine how many people they know – just one degree away from us. Then think again about two or three degrees away and the numbers are astronomical.
Many of us have heard about the ‘six degrees of separation’ concept, which says that we are all only a few linked people away from everyone else in the world. Well, with digital networks the number has essentially halved to around 3-2.8 degrees of separation – we are closer than ever.
Sounds amazing, doesn’t it? Roughly three people between you and anyone else you want to connect with. It is amazing – on the surface. These are just numbers after all and remain inert if we do not effectively activate their potential.
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The important thing is this – we need to remember that selling, networking, relationship development and so on are a quality numbers game, not just a numbers game. The potential numbers bandied about sound impressive but aren’t so if you do not know:
a) what you are specifically looking for by way of ideal sales opportunities,
b) who you need to engage with who can potentially deliver you the key to those opportunities, and
c) how to actually engage someone in a conversation so they can open doors for you
If you can’t answer these questions all those close proximity connections are a waste – a huge waste.
This lesson was brought home to me again this week. I belong to a formal networking group that is focused on clearly defining and presenting what each member is looking for by way of ideal referral opportunities. This helps the group understand what each person is looking for and in turn helps the group help each member with real, tangible referrals that can lead to real business opportunities. My kind of networking group for sure.
At our most recent weekly catch-up our education ambassador, Matt Dixon, served up a great lesson by asking everyone to take out their set of keys. He picked a member’s heavy bunch of keys and selected one at random. He then asked us: “What does this key open?”
Obviously, the only person who knew for certain was the key’s owner. However, Matt asked us to look at the key as a metaphor for opportunity. The key owner is a potential gateway to many opportunities, if only they know what doors to open for us.
It was a great lesson highlighting that we all carry with us many keys to opportunity. We just need to know which ones to open for people.
So how do we make the most of this?
The onus is on the seeker of opportunity to be very clear about what they are looking for. This makes it easy for those who want to help to take out their keys and unlock those doors, cupboards, safes, cars and treasure chests; anything that leads to new and better opportunities.
Make sure you know how to clearly present a referral opportunity in simple easy to understand terms that makes it simple for your networks to spot those opportunities, because you never know who knows who and what keys they have.
Remember everybody lives by selling something.
Sue Barrett will be speaking at the SmartCompany ‘Growing Your Business Seminar’ August 12th.