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Transform: The Real Power of Business Networking & Connections with Shawn Manaher

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Shawn Manaher is my guest this week, as we discuss his contribution to my 2-book set “Entrepreneur Mind Hacks”.  Shawn has some golden nuggets regarding the power of good connections to share with us, and advice on how to avoid totally messing them up!

Let’s start with the basics: What are networking & business connections?

According to Shawn, networking connections are simply making and building relationships related to whatever you want to build.  So, in this context were talking about networking for the purpose of building business.  Think of it more as a relationship more than just an activity – getting to know one another.  Often times, those that are in the “online space” make the mistake of thinking that networking is just like online.  However, all networking should actually be approached in more of an “offline” approach, in that getting to know one another and establishing a relationship should be paramount.  Once you know and understand what each other’s strengths, weaknesses, services and needs are, then the mutual benefit of the connection will naturally surface.

When Shawn goes into a networking, or into any kind of connection, relationship he understands that there’s a give-and-take in the relationship.  This practically works itself out by having a certain set of strengths and services connected with the person he has networked with so that when Shawn meets someone else who needs that service, he instantly will connect the two people and see their business grow, while fulfilling the need of the other person.  Then, as the relationships grow and become more and more reciprocal, everybody within the network wins!

You see, as Shawn puts it, your business growth and your business potential is only as strong as your ability and the strength of your network.  Now, he is the first to admit that this truth didn’t sit easy with him at first.  Shawn didn’t like that the idea that success really is about who you know not what you do.

Yet, as Shawn connected with and became friends with people such as Chris Dreyer from Attorney Rankings, he realized that now, either one of them would be willing to drop everything to help one another succeed – all because each of them have given to one another without expectation.  So, in building his networking circles, Shawn has come to understand both who he has connected with, as well as where their mutual benefits reside.

Now, it’s a hard truth that some people are going to be more takers than givers.  But if you find a core group of people that are willing to give, and you’re willing to give, and there’s that mutual respect and connection across the board… then, those people become your inner networking circle.

One of the most valuable lessons Shawn has ever learned came to him the hard way:

If you’re going to network, then you need to constantly connect with the people you are networking with.

Since learning this incredibly valuable lesson, Shawn is much more organized and almost always has a plan in place before meeting somebody.  He puts them in an email database.  He follows up with them on a regular basis so that he is connecting with them in a meaningful way.  Ultimately, the purpose of networking is not just to accumulate a list of names that you know, but to help build each other’s business efforts to new levels.

But to achieve this, Shawn needed to come up with and organize an effective system.

At one point, Shawn was going to a lot of business networking events.  He was mostly going to open networking events where he would basically meet with anybody and connect with anybody.  But, then he learned about closed networking events. At these events, instead of focusing on meeting 100 different people at each event, taking part in short conversations amounting to very little meaningful give and take, he decided to go into a closed networking group.

There, Shawn worked on building relationships with a select few individuals particularly interested in building each other’s businesses in a mutually beneficial way.

Image: Grapevine Networking

Image: Grapevine Networking

Typically a closed network would be a group of about twelve like-minded businesspeople that Shawn will see fairly regularly – on a monthly basis, he meets with two or three of those individuals face-to-face, one-on-one for about 30-45 minutes.  He gets to know their businesses they get to know Shawn’s.  And then, through that one-to-one connection, each of the people are able to refer business at a higher rate and a much more successful rate for one another because they actually know each other.

Among his other efforts, Shawn has begun Sidepreneurs (sidepreneurs.com).  This innovative pool of resources, podcast, and connection site  is all about helping individuals launch their side-businesses and graduate into full-time entrepreneurship!  Shawn offers mentorship which comes out of his own experience, as well as his network.  The result has been the building of a community of like-minded individuals who are focused on building their side businesses and helping one another achieve those goals.

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