Your Network Equals Your Networth


December, 2014

**Let me start by saying this is a lengthy discussion point, since it can get rather elaborate in the directions of its general interpretations.**

I heard this quote from Jim Rohn about a year or so ago; he stated that “Your network is your net worth.” Although I did not give it any serious thought, it stuck with me. Over the past six months, it started to set in as my business began to expand.

Then I truly understood the mean of what Rohn said. It hit me like a freight train. My network only goes so far, but that statement cleared up a massive grey area. It is entirely expansive, and it goes both ways beyond myself – to both the client and the consultant (my) sides.

Since the road goes both ways, I have decided to discuss both client and consultant networks.

Making new connections through a client.

Photo on Best Running

Client to Consultant

From a client’s perspective, a consultant’s network is worth acknowledging. As a client, your consultant has a secure network to help you achieve goals no matter how small. If the consultant can’t help you directly, he may know someone or business who can help with it. The consultant can act as a resource hub for clients. Instead of burning time trying to find someone to move forward with each idea, the consultant may be able to handle and manage several different things through the other relationships in their network. Saving you, the client, costly time and resources.

I have had several clients say that it is nice to have someone else pick up the majority of the slack with the project they are involved with, instead of having it loom over their heads with all of the other things a business owner has to worry about in their day. That is what makes the consultant’s network relationships so crucial to a client. Both the client and the consultant realize how valuable each others time is.

Depending on the level of professionalism the consultant has with those relationships, they may (and often do) get better rates for work, than if someone were to contact that person/business directly. For example, in my network, I have several photographers I work with directly. They often offer me better rates for my customers because I am bringing them business and expanding their network. Hence, the tree grows another branch. The client get quality photography at a lower rate, the photographer receives a network relationship and business, and I have built stronger relationships with both parties involved.

Everyone Wins!

Even more so, you know that you can go back to the consultant (and their network) to get help in the future with further expansion and other projects. More importantly, you are now part of that network with the consultant. The consultant can refer others to you and your business and help you generate your clients and customers that way.

Now that we’ve discussed understand just some of the value of a network from the client side, we can delve deeper into the meaning on the consultant side.

“Instead of burning time trying to find someone to move forward with each idea, the consultant may be able to handle and manage several different things through the other relationships in their network. “

Consultant to Client

 More often than not, you next design consultancy job will come from a referral. You might know it better as word of mouth. As a consultant there are a couple of things you have to consider before approaching a client:

Every relationship has value.

It’s may be hard to think of something, but every connection you have in your network can be used for something. While you may not be able to utilize every connect on every project, you can still bring something extra to the table.

How are you going to present/cover network inclusion cost?

When you do utilize services from a member of your network, how do you handle pricing? I cover it in the overall cost; however, I do know others that say something along the lines of “This only covers the work I do, but I can connect you with someone that can do that for a fee.” The reason I do it my way is so the client doesn’t get hit with a surprise charge later on in the project.

Are you and your network able to complete the task promptly?

That may seem stupid, but it’s happening more often than not. In the upcoming weeks, I will discuss Dedication vs. Availability. You may be all for taking on another project, but are you biting off more than you can chew? Also, does your network partner have time? I third party hang up can make the whole project suffer.

Those just things to consider. Try a couple of ideas and see what works best for you.

Knowing these in combination with an excellent client analysis will help you determine how valuable your connection is to that new client. Just because you may specialize in one area does not mean you can not go outside of those boundaries and offer other skills, as well as the skills of others. It is a classic case of going for the “NO.”

What I mean by going for the no is after talking to the client about what he/she/they need, propose other, other things they may require that you can help them with until they say “no.” Most times there are resources that you can offer to the client. Helps them with more options to meet more needs and gives you more income.

However, your network is the most underutilized tool most people have in business. It has taken me years to realize that my network allows me to offer more than just branding, illustration, and websites. These connections me to connect the client to resources for interior designs, professional photography, catering, and even as far environmental sustainability. It all depends on what needs they have, what they need after talking to them, and what my network and I bring to the table. Again a happy client becomes another resource to offer your clients.

As I said, most of my business comes from the old “Hey, I know a guy that does that…” and I love that. Why?

Simple. That means I have done an outstanding job of helping out clients to the point they are now friends and trust me enough to recommend me to others. How did I do it? By bringing my network to their aid as well. It is the greatest feeling you can have in business. So much so that I implemented a new program.

Network = Networth

I give whomever my referral comes from 10% of my take-home income. If I make 1500, my referral gets 150 for connecting me to someone; for using their network to help their clients. It is like double money. I do not upset clients to cover it. I cover it out of my pocket. Sure that may sound bad, but we all come out ahead. Moreover, it is easy money for the referral.