Can you sell influence?
Friends for Sale
There was one guy who had sold his whole life on e-bay. Not necessarily his life, for after the sale he was still alive, but the life he had led up until the sale. The guy sold his house, his car, anyway, all goods. So far so good.
But he also sold his friends. Kinda goes like this: he would introduce the buyer to his close friends and from then on it was with the buyer. Same for the job: he would arrange an interview.
BUT … What does this have to do with Networking?
Everything. Let me explain.
Networking has value.
Networking is an abstract entity and at the same time, an extremely useful thing. The value of a networking is directly proportional to the quality of the relationship that one person cultivates with hes peers and also with the image that this person transmits.
Whether it’s for business, exchange favors or suggest a contact, networking is a very reliable tool. It is precisely this objectification of networking that leads to a very poor use of it. Being well-connected will not serve to make anyone earn money. The idea is not to sell the networking itself, the idea is to sell some product or service through networking.
To that end, being well connected helps. But as friends just can’t be sold (or they can, just no guarantees or refunds), networking can not be as well.
Networking can not be sold.
Networking has value. You can even price it. But it can not be sold.
It is valuable but can not be capitalized directly. You can not sell your connections. You can not transfer your credibility to others. You can even give assurances about someone’s attributes or honesty, but you can never make one person trust another in the way he trusts you; no matter how much you argue.
Like the guy who sold his “life”, you can at most introduce people. You can even request more people to support on behalf of another person. This means you can even use networking to provide some service as a consultant, business intermediary or even head hunting (and on linkedin, these guys are the least interesting ones to have on the network: most of them do NOT network) but you can’t sell it directly.
So how to monetize your networking?
First: Have a network.
I’m going to hammer the same nail again.
Most people think that because they have acquaintances, they have networking. I throw a challenge: send a message to a contact on Linkedin. If from 10 messages one gets 6 replies, you have 60% networking. What kind of message?
I suggest the template:
Hello <contact name>
It’s been a long time since we had talked! I come in contact to <remember, remind, suggest, comment, ask> about <recall, remembrance, suggestion, comment, question>.
And how are things on your side? Send some news, let’s make Linkedin to get the contacts closer!
I’m pretty sure you’re going to need to read this article later.
Well, once having a network, then you can monetize it. The best way to monetize networking is by listening to what others have to offer, sell or suggest.
A potential contact of yours is setting up a start-up? Why not ask him how the business is, and if you find someone needing his products or services, why not don’t you recommend the guy? Selling the product of others makes you reinforce two sides of your networking in one move!
Soon, you’ll increase your exposure, become perceived and become someone people seek when needing a solution to some problem. That means opportunity. Eventually, this quest matches up with a skill of your own. Bingo! You can sell something, a service or a product.
That is it! Your networking has been monetized!
But the worst …
I have seen some digital agencies offering services to increase the presence of businesses, products and professionals on the web. Arguments revolve around the amount of connections. But…
Normally, overviewing something takes little to no time. Consumption of information and engagement do take time. The visualization of a CV, without a good analysis, does not do any good, for example.
No coach can improve YOUR networking. It’s the kind of path you have to go through on your own.
Otherwise, it would look like the “life on sale” announcement on e-bay…