What is the literal meaning of network? It is the intersecting of horizontal and vertical lines to form a net - so as is apparent by the name, your network is like a net. Imagine it being woven and held together by a series of interconnecting knots. Each knot represents a person you can call on and use to help gain success. Most of the people (knots) will play minor roles in your quest. They're good people to know and they may come in handy someday.
But not all knots are same. There are simple knots and then there are special knots. A special knot in your network is someone extraordinary - someone who has unique knowledge, specific skills, special know-how, distinctive talent or exceptional contacts. Special people are the people you call on most frequently for help. They're the people on your auto-dialing list. They're the people whose addresses you have committed to memory.
Special knots can be neatly classified for the ways in which they can be helpful. Other authors have named and described these exceptional people, but there is not a consensus as to terms. So we'll name and describe our very own special knots using our own vocabulary.
These are the people you call on regularly to get every day jobs done most efficiently and often at the lowest prices. They're people with whom you are comfortable. Your Pro's are probably already in your telephone or address book or on your computer data. Pro's include your lawyer, your doctor, your stockbroker, your barber, your handy man your hair stylist, almost anybody whose services you use consistently.
For a variety of reasons you may have to look for new Pro's. Here's where you network. You ask other Pro's for recommendations. Who do they use and why? If you're comfortable with the people you ask you'll probably be comfortable with the people they suggest.
Ask them anything. They are the people who have the answers to just about anything you want to know. Librarians are often intellectuals, but need not be. They come from all walks of life, and their vast storehouses of knowledge tend to be multi-faceted. This is probably because Librarians are usually diverse readers with a menu that includes books, trade journals, magazines, newsletters and newspapers.
Another characteristic of Librarians is that they enjoy challenges. Ask them a question that they can't answer, or can't answer completely, and they will go out of their way to get your answer...with no obligation. They do it for the sheer joy of solving your problem.
If you are looking for success, why not emulate successful people? That is what Mentors are all about. They're the people in your life who are often, though not necessarily, more successful than you. These are people who set an example, who set the standard for you in family life, social life, in business and in your profession. They're people you look up to and respect. Mentors can be called on for special needs because you probably have established a deeper personal relationship with them.
You just can't get along without them. Superknots are those very special friends that can seemingly get you anything you need, know anything you want to know or find anything you need to find. Superknots are themselves, super networkers. They seem to know any and everybody who's worth knowing. But you have to be careful with Superknots. You don't want to over use them and wear out your welcome. Another characteristic of Superknots is their very long memories. They're quick to do favors but long remember the favor, that's why they are so effective. They have a long list of people who they can ask for favors on your behalf.
This term was coined by internationally known speaker and writer, Murray Raphel of Atlantic City, New Jersey. Here's how Murray describes an Advocate: "Someone who tells everyone else to buy from you. The Advocate is someone who is so happy with what they are buying from you that they become a disciple. "When new people come into town and are looking to buy a particular product, this person brings them directly to you and says, "T wants you to take care of these folks the same way you take care of me!" That is what an Advocate is - someone who goes around town bringing customers to you."
For the purposes of networking, Advocates won't strictly be involved in the sales process. Advocates are those people who go out of their way, often way out of their way - on your behalf - without expecting anything in return. Advocates like and respect you and they're willing to tell other people what they think about you. An Advocate may be your closest friend or your best customer or client, or someone just a bit further removed. An important aspect of networking is to identify your Advocates and cultivate them.
Here's a "just for fun" group. They don't fit into the traditional concept of the knots in your network. You won't have them listed in your files. In fact, you haven't even met them. Tomorrows are the knots that will be in your network... tomorrow. But they are just as important (and sometime more important) than knots you already have in your network. They are the people you'll meet by chance that will unexpectedly be of great help to you. You always have to be on the lookout for great tomorrows!
Tomorrows are short lived. As soon as you've met them and recognized their potential you put them in your files and they'll turn from Tomorrows into another category. Now that you have identified all of the people in your net work, classified the special people and recognized the opportunities to use them, you're ready to move on.
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