Networking relationships. – Why not Quality AND Quantity?

Recently I’ve seen a load of posts about quality versus quantity, mainly people saying they prefer a small number of quality relationships over a large number of looser relationships.

Whilst it is always personal choice, I just wonder why we can’t do both? Have a big extended network, and our smaller, more intimate connections.

The way I always explain it, is that our network is like a load of concentric circles. People, unless they are genetically related to us, tend to start off in the outer circles. We’ve either met them, or connected online, but we don’t yet know them. Some people stay in those outer circles, as acquaintances, and that’s cool.

Those people who move closer to us, or us to them, become our Dunbar’s number (I wrote about it in Business Networking for Dummies). Dunbar’s number is those 150 or so people who you would join, uninvited, for a drink, if you bumped into them in a bar. Dunbar theorised that there was a maximum number of people one human could maintain friendships with, and that number was apparently around 150. Some people in that circle will come and go, move closer to us, drift away, our working situation changes so that we aren’t as in touch anymore, that sort of thing.

Right inside that, there’s our inner circle. Those people who we pick up the ‘phone to when we want to celebrate, or moan. Those people who we seek advice or counsel from, those people who we actively seek out if we are in their area.

And then there are the people who know our closest secrets, who we ‘phone if the shit is really hitting the fan, who we love and trust on a different level.

Of course we put more effort into those relationships which are really special to us, both in our business and personal life, partly because we want to and partly because those relationships tend to flow, and communication is easier. Those small number of people really close to us, and the 150 or so Dunbar’s number, we most likely communicate with regularly.

But the opportunity to keep in touch with our wider network at scale should not be overlooked. Some of those people will move closer to us, will become close friends, drinking buddies, business connections, clients, suppliers, advisers along the way. But only if we do what we need to do to keep in touch.

And let’s face it, in 2019, if you have any sort of social media presence, those connections may run into thousands of people, and it strikes me it is a mistake, in all sorts of ways, to ignore them. So there are some practical ways we can continue to nurture those relationships, as well as the closer ones.

When I post this, a number of my connections, both close and further away, will read it, and, hopefully, some will get some value from it. Some of the really really cool ones will even share it. I’ll post this in a couple of places, so hopefully quite a few people will read it, which hopefully means that I’ve brought some value to that relationship.

Liking, commenting and sharing stuff from our connections is also a 2019 way of demonstrating to people that we are still here, that even though we don’t speak often, we still pay attention to them. Doing that is one of my first jobs of the day.

Attending events where there is the chance to chat to lots of people in one two hour sitting is also very time efficient. Even if it is just a quick hello and a handshake or hug, the relationship is a little further on than if we hadn’t seen that person.

Being visible to many people does have huge benefits. Not least that you and your business can become disproportionately well known if you just put in a little more effort than other people. The more people know about you and your business, the more people are going to read, listen to or watch your stuff, the more people are going to be aware of what you sell, the more opportunities you have to sell what you sell.

My point was, it doesn’t have to be Quality Versus Quantity. It is perfectly possible, simple and in my opinion sensible, to manage both.

Keynote Speaker. Author of Business Networking for Dummies, Instant Networking & Win The Room. Trainer. Mentor.

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