March 10, 2016

Networker v. NOTworker

Today's article, with the next few weeks dedicated to similar articles, will revolve on the most important tool your new members will absolutely need to start off their home builders association (HBA) investment off on the right foot, or in this case, the right hand. I am writing about networking and the least expensive of your marketing dollar line items.

 Networker v. NOTworker

Have you ever heard someone described as a person "with connections" or witnessed someone who is well received during a business function? If you haven't on either description then you definitely are on the outside looking in, meaning you are very new to the business "social" function and, going further, haven't had the impulse to start conversations.   
The descriptions above refer to a person who knows how to have conversations that bring value, is well respected and builds up their social capital as if he/she were deploying dollars into investments, which is exactly what old fashioned networking can do. 
Let's uncover the differences between a networker and a NOTworker as it applies to our home builders association as well as any other business function that incorporates a social gathering. This is not a "one size fits all" opinion but rather overviews with basics that should help your newest association members.
What do I mean by "networking?" I believe that networking is part of the process of developing your social capital. Building your social capital hinges on the development of meaningful relationships with other people. Since one should always be working on building meaningful relationships with other people, he or she should always be networking. However, that doesn't mean someone should always be trying to sell something to someone, because that rarely facilitates the development of meaningful relationships. This is the biggest misinterpretation of the practice of networking. Some people think that networking means to be constantly selling your products or services.

"There is no point going anywhere if people don't remember you were there"
What is the point of going somewhere to meet new people if you leave no lasting or minimal impressions? Or the other end of the spectrum; having others who meet you wish they never had?

Let's discuss the very basics of networking... identification.

The key to successful networking starts with the objective. Without the objective, you will wander aimlessly and then wonder why you are not feeling good about the gathering you're attending. What is your objective? Is it:

  1. Meeting new people?
  2. Meeting new people that can help you?
  3. Meeting new people that can help you while you help them?

Yes is obvious on #1, yes on #2 but beware of being a "taker" and a big YES on #3 which is what you're objective will be after you get a chance to meet new people or further develop relationships with ones you have met previously.

Once your objective is understood let's look at WHAT meaning what is it you are looking do accomplish. WHAT is gaining something. it could be:

  1. Developing business opportunities
  2. Developing a network of industry relationships that can help you further your business opportunities
  3. Developing a network of industry relationships that have you gaining and giving business opportunities

Again, yes to all 3 with the third being your ultimate arrival to successfully networking.

WHY do you need to network? Because business does not just drop in your lap. Going home after work is not an option for successful members. Going home means you have a 8-5 job and you are satisfied with your station in life. Why you decide to network is your passion for success and, the question for you is, how passionate are you about success?

WHO is the million dollar (or whatever ever your sales goals are) question. Who are your desired potential relationships. In our association of home builders the seemingly obvious answer would be "home builders." Right? How many new customers can you meet so you can build your book of business? Or for the builder, how many new vendors can I meet that will show results in my bottom line of building a home? Yes to both, after all success has many results and these are definitely two. Two, of many. Two trees that stand in a forest. The answer, when expanded, to WHO is everybody who has anything to do with home building. For associates, in addition to builders, other associates. Why? Because they have something that can help you; established builder relationships.For builders reaching out and developing new vendors is smart and developing relationships with other builders just as smart. No, unless you belong to NAHB Builder 20 Clubs, you probably want share business tactics but you will most likely develop new ways of discussing building "problems" that can either give you heartburn or nightmares and everything in between.

WHERE is the home builders association including all three levels; local state and national. You have at your disposal a vast "supply" of fellow members all looking to network with each other. General membership meetings are something no member, new or established, should pass up. Each encounter helps you with your overall objective of being successful or as successful as you'd like. Check your local's website for calendar of events or call your executive officer for a upcoming events. While you're on the phone (yes, phone. Email is not a great networking tool) ask about a list of committees that are available. Networking is streamlined when you work with others on initiatives. 

As a wise person once said, "there you have it, there you go." In order for you to hone your networking skills you have to understand above. Without understanding there is confusion. With confusion you lose time. Can you really afford to lose time?

submitted by Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP

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