When Terry first started her own business, she knew she would need to start with her own network first. Friends are your best network! But, the idea of asking her friends for help rattled her. She felt uncomfortable, like she was putting them in an awkward spot. But if she makes the ask properly and her friends have good boundaries, they can choose their own answer: yes or no. She’s not putting them in any position – they are responsible for their own response!
Eventually, she asked for her friends’ support and help in her own way, and what do you know – it worked! It turns out, your friends are your friends for a reason: They like you and want to help you out! And what’s even better – they have other friends, and those friends have friends, and… You get where I’m headed. That’s exactly how a network works.
Look at it this way: If your dearest friend needed your help, you would absolutely move Heaven and Earth, right? So, try extending the same level of worth of their feelings to yourself! Your friends want to see you succeed and chances are, they want to help you get there. Your friends are your strongest allies. Think about it – aren’t you excited and happy when you see your friends do well?! Same goes for you!
Terry reached out to her friends and simply told them she was going to start her own business, told them what it was about then asked if they knew anyone who could use her services, would they please refer her? That’s it! So easy!
Eventually, friends of friends would invite Terry to a networking event and she would spread word of her business that way too. She introduced herself, got to know the other person and then told them the same thing, “If you or someone you know ever need help with [insert your specific set of services and how they benefit the recipient], I would love to work with you.”
Here are three things you can do this week (and one follow up!) to expand your network with your friends:
- Research your friends. Do you know who your friends are connected with outside of the soccer club or conference room? Look on Facebook and LinkedIn and pick one person they know that you’d like to be introduced to.
- Next, introduce yourself. That’s right. Your friends know you well, but would they know how to introduce you? So, type up a one paragraph introduction for your friends and ask them to use it to do an e-connection for you with someone you think would be a good connection. You took the leg work out of it for them!
- Share. Now, you’ve got the connection, now share something with them. A book, a blog, an article, a news piece – something that shows them you’re interested in them and in the industry. Like their posts, share their own work (just keep it un-creepy!)
- Give thanks. Beyond just great manners, saying thank you to the friend who helped you also goes a long way. It can be as simple as a nice note and being the great reference you knew they would be!
- Finally, make the ask. Finally, once you’ve established a solid connection, ask them to coffee. Pick their brain about a product or theory or idea. Ask them about their goals and identify ways you can help them (and make sure to have done your research so you know what you bring to the table!)
It doesn’t matter if you’re starting your own business, embarking on a trip to a foreign country, or need help at the fundraiser – your friends know people – people who can help you achieve your goals. Reach out and share your plan with your allies and watch the wheels of opportunity and assistance start to turn!