This summer, our family took a multi-day, small-ship tour of the Great Barrier Reef near Australia. The first night we noticed that the anchor being used to secure our small ship in the middle of the Coral Sea was quite small compared to the size of the ship.
The second night we were anchored off Hope Island, very strong winds came up. Our captain started the engines and backed the ship up, letting out more length of chain to the anchor. Curious (and I must admit, a bit concerned), I asked him how it was possible for such a small anchor to hold the ship in place with the winds blowing against it so strongly.
“It is the chain that is holding the ship, not the anchor,” he informed me. After the anchor is lowered, the captain looks to the first mate who signals from the prow which direction the chain is laying on the bottom of the sea. The captain can then maneuver into the right position and let out the necessary amount of chain to hold the ship in the particular conditions at that time.
This particular night, with the winds growing stronger, he recognized that he needed to let out more chain.
Well, I began to see how this dynamic was relevant to networking. An anchor in any good networking program is the system, the process of doing business through relationships. But it’s not the system or the process that has the strength at all! It is the length of the chain holding the networking program in place!
As you take a look at the networking groups you may be participating in, think about the links or relationships, you have formed with the individual members. How many links does your chain have? Do you have strong relationships with many of the other members of the group, or are you closely linked with some, but disconnected and detached from others for whatever reason?
So how do you go about letting out more chain during times when the economic winds have strengthened against our businesses? I submit that it’s time to get serious about developing stronger relationships with each and every member of the networking groups you participate in, even with the people you don’t think have the contacts you might want or perhaps are in a business that is not exactly symbiotic with yours.
Have you done one-to-ones with those people as well? Spending the time to do one-to-ones with each and every active member of your network helps you develop a longer and stronger chain. Each person in your network is one of the links that lengthens that chain.
The wisdom of laying down a longer chain to strengthen the ability of the anchor to hold strong is critical for the success of your personal network.
Another aspect of this anchoring process is watching the first mate. Look for networking organizations that have leaders who are qualified to signal the direction the chain is lying as the dynamic in your group changes. Watch for guidance in what adjustments to make to ensure that your network is pointed in the right direction. At one point in our anchoring process while at sea, the first mate literally dove into the water to loosen the chain where it had become hooked on a coral formation. You need qualified people in your personal network who are willing to dive in to help lead a network in the right direction.
So starting this week, try making your main focus to develop your “relationship chain” within your personal network. I guarantee it will be what anchors your business and your networking efforts for longevity, despite economic fluctuations. The old adage that a chain is as strong as its weakest link is true for a ship as well as a network.
About the Author:
Called the “father of modern networking” by CNN, Dr. Ivan Misner is a New York Times bestselling author. He is the Founder and Chairman of BNI (www.bni.com), the world’s largest business networking organization. His latest #1 bestseller, The 29% Solution can be viewed at www.29PercentSolution.com. Dr. Misner is also the Sr. Partner for the Referral Institute, an international referral training company (www.referralinstitute.com). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.