Earlier this week, I participated in the CEO Summit hosted by the University of La Verne. I moderated a session on leveraging the supply chain for growth and profitability (see one shot of us below), and I am a Board member for the College of Business and Public Management, and this is our key event of the year. The keynote speaker, Karen Caplan, CEO of Frieda's Specialty Produce started her speech off by noting the power of connections. She attributed her connections and networks as significant to her success. How does your network stack up?
I can personally attest to the power of connections. When I started my business 12 years ago, I had few connections — high quality and vital but few in numbers. Thank goodness as they are the reason I'm here today — thank you Vicki, Sandi, Debra, Brenda, Mike, Dave, Paul, Liz, Keith, Bill, Jolene, Ann, Kathy and a few others. Beyond the first few years, I would have failed (as do the vast majority of small businesses) if I hadn't valued the power of connections. Fast forward 12 years later, and I have a vast network of high-quality people from several different affiliations, clients and colleagues that seems to grow every day. In looking at my webpage, I see I have a few more updates — the Drucker School and the University of La Verne. I can attest that my success is derived from these connections.
One tip to implement this week:
No matter how few or how many connections you have currently, you should ALWAYS be thinking about seeking out a few more high-quality connections. Even if you believe you have none, it isn't a problem. Find someone you think you could add value to from a business perspective and start a conversation. You might find that there are synergies there.
It is NOT all about the numbers; quality is more important than quantity. Take your time to develop and maintain relationships with your high-quality connections. When I first started, there is NO way I could have succeeded even if I had 1,000 connections if they were not high quality. Look for quality. And, remember, it isn't all about you. What can you do for them?
Lastly, take time out of your day to focus on these relationships. They will not maintain themselves. I realize we are all "too busy" but we never can be "too busy" for our key relationships. Make it a priority.