You are a networker. You make your living helping others with the products and services you offer. You meet people, connect with people, and sell to people. If you do that well, you will be successful--as long as you can keep it up!
But there is a way to start with where you currently are and take your business to another level altogether: Replicate yourself by building an organization of people who do what you do for themselves--who are also an extension of you! That's when your work will grow exponentially. Now that's exciting! To do this, you need to grow in the critical area of personal leadership.
If you want to grow your organization, you need to know sales and other skills, yes, but more importantly, you need to learn leadership skills that will enable you to build a team of people who will take what you do and begin building the business; even when you aren't there! That is the strength of networking.
Let's look at five essential skills of leadership, skills that everyone who wants to build an organization needs to hone to a fine edge and develop to perfection. Doing so is not necessarily easy, but it is exceptionally rewarding, for these skills are the keys to realizing your dreams.
Vince Lombardi said, "Leaders aren't born, they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work."
1. The Ability to Communicate
Great leaders take the vision they have and communicate it to others in ways that they can easily understand and internalize. Only after ownership happens, can those "others" actually carry out the vision.
Focus on developing your ability to communicate by speaking and writing clearly and with all the passion you have for your vision. Be sure to use both verbal and non-verbal ways of communication. Above all, communicate often. Leaders all too often think they are "beating a dead horse," but studies show that the average leader under-communicates the vision by up to a factor of 100!
2. The Ability to See the End Result Long Before Others
A gentleman once told me, "You see things about six months before the rest of us." I appreciated that, because that is a skill of a leader.
Managers and non-leaders focus on today rather than the future; leaders look out ahead of themselves and their situations. Leaders need to be rooted in the here and now, but they must also learn to be forward-looking, to discern what's on the horizon. Leaders think and strategize about what they see for tomorrow.
Train yourself to look forward; practice making projections and seeing the future. When you learn to do this better than others, they will look to you for leadership.
3. The Ability to Define Goals for Yourself and Others
Yogi Berra said, "If you don't know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else." This is true for yourself and for those you lead.
Do you know what your goals are? Can you define them? Can you articulate them clearly (see Skill #1!)? Can you do this for the people in your organization? Can you help them define and set their goals? Great leaders work at helping others set their goals so there is clarity and definition--so they can be internalized and acted upon by others. Work hard at this skill and others will follow.
4. The Ability to Teach Others
General Electric has long had the reputation as the company that best exemplified leadership development. This is because their former CEO, Jack Welch, always emphasized the need for current leaders to teach others. He spent what others would consider too much time in the classroom teaching. He was a great leader who developed other leaders to follow behind him.
Learn the skill of teaching. Understand the different learning styles. As leaders, we need to learn how to transfer knowledge in such a way that those we're teaching become an active part of our business and can then "walk on their own." Work hard at your teaching techniques; be sure to use many of your daily encounters as opportunities to teach those around you.
5. The Ability to Inspire Others
If you have a visionary goal and want to be a great leader, put a little fire under your followers! Aristotle taught that passion was one of the three foundations of influence (the other two were logic and ethics), and that's precisely what leadership is--influence.
Work at helping others to see the big picture, the end result and how great that will be for them and others. Above all, make it exciting. After all, if it's a goal worth pursuing, it should be exciting; if it isn't, then dump it and choose a goal that is.
If you want to build a great networking organization, one where you are successful and others are, too, make it your goal to become the best leader you can be. Develop your communication skills; be a forward thinker; learn to set and achieve goals; become a great teacher; and discover the art of inspiring others. You don't need to do it overnight, but as you grow in these skills over time, you'll see your business grow along with you.
is the president of Made for Success, a company devoted to helping people turn their potential into performance, succeed in every area of their lives, and achieve their dreams.