Networking, aka the art of making connections, works wonders. It helps not only tackle complex real-life problems but also build an international company from the ground up, just like I did.
I’m Ivan Kroshnyi. To start with, I run a group of companies in more than 18 countries worldwide and always do business with partners. My secret to success, which I’m all set to share with you, is professional networking.
What is networking?
All our connections, such as friends, relatives, and neighbors, are of great value: both moral and economic. After all, if you analyse your environment, you can surely find people who are useful to your business and you, to some extent, while you’re useful to others.
Each time you come into contact with people, you generate a kind of capital. You just want to know how to use this capital the right way: get to know the right people, make connections, and keep in touch with them. This is real networking.
During our lives, we meet thousands and tens of thousands of people. But networking is about the quality of your connections and the level of trust rather than the number of people. You want to widen your social circle systematically and thoughtfully. Network maps help me with this task.
What is a network map?
You can use mind maps or any record system for your contacts as your network map to keep the data well-arranged. It’s better to enter all the data you can find out about a person: birthday, personal information, hobbies, mutual acquaintances, desired or existing interaction, etc.
You must show interest and get involved in the lives of people from your network map. Drop a line once every two weeks just to ask how a person is doing—this is enough. I bet you agree that everyone likes getting a portion of attention not only when you need something from them.
How networking works in my life?
I run various projects: a brokerage company, an investment fund, a payment system, an online learning platform, eco-friendly vehicles, and metalworking. I do all of my businesses exclusively with partners, and I do find partners thanks to networking.
The most recent case is the launch of high-end coffee houses in Dubai. I moved to the UAE last year and joined the local business club right away to get to know like-minded people as fast as possible. Here, I met an entrepreneur who had an exceptionally rich experience in the coffee business and looked for an investor in his coffee villa project. I liked the fully detailed business plan, and in a few days, I became an investor and co-founder of this project. So far, we’ve opened two coffee houses; soon, we’re launching the third one.
You are the main networking resource?
Actually, you are the main networking resource. You want to work on self-improvement and, above all, think about your positioning to build an effective network of connections. Decide what message you want to convey to the world and what you want others to talk about you. Opt for the message you feel most comfortable with.
You must work to match your image. If people see you as a reliable person, always be punctual and fulfill your obligations. With every action, prove that you are a man of your word.
To recap, don’t try to appear better than you are, especially when you deal with people who are higher in status or have achieved much more than you. Be sincere to make sure your acquaintances turn into strong and lasting partnerships.
Networking or manipulation?
Professional networking is built on what you can give to your network rather than what you can get from it. The more you value people, the more reliable your network and the more value you can get back from it.
Lend a helping hand without selfish motives. Introduce the members of your network to each other. This way, you’ll have a circle of people who are grateful to you and who will gladly help you when you need that.
Sometimes, networking can turn into manipulation because people often take any help for granted. They’ll try to get the most out of you—without giving anything back. Avoid manipulators and help those who are grateful to you, appreciate your help, and are ready to reciprocate. All in all, you want to build mutually beneficial partnerships that lay the foundation for effective networking.
Networking is a modern people’s skill that’s useful both in business and in private life. Keep learning and mastering new skills.