Why You Should Be Networking

Networking has been given a bad name. Most people think of it as meeting in some dining haul and throwing business cards at each other for a couple hours and then going home. True networking is as far from this as could be and it should really be known as relationship building.

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This relationship building is one of the corner stones that HUMINT operations are built on. whether it’s an intel operative in a foreign country or a patrol officer working his own city. One of the first things the good ones do is start developing relationships. These relationships allow them to keep a finger on the pulse of the area they are working.

Building a network is just as important in every day life but that is amplified when traveling, especially if you are traveling solo, or in times of disaster or crisis. Your network can tell you where the good restaurants are, which neighborhoods to avoid, and are more likely to lend you a hand if something goes wrong.

It’s better to be known than to be a stranger especially if you are somewhere new that you don’t know well. If you’re a stranger people might be suspicious of you, but if they know you they might give you the benefit of the doubt. This can be good if a large emergency or crime is committed as it might keep you from being public enemy number 1 just because they don’t know you and can keep you from becoming a target of their criminals because you have some connection to the locals.

Network building is pretty simple in theory. Build relationships right? Most of us can do this on a natural basis somewhat effectively if all the conditions are right but when we set out to do it deliberately it tends to not work out as well.

This is because most people don’t fully understand the patterns and behaviors that are established in our instincts when it comes to building relationships but whether it’s for business, intelligence, or your personal life, if you want to be successful at anything you need to be deliberate in your actions.

Like so many things it starts with research and planning. You need to know what your goals are for your network. If it’s for business what are your business goals, who can help you achieve them and if you don’t know the people who can help you, who do you know that does? Map it out if you have to and start there.

Most networks consist of three kinds of people, your inner circle(your most trusted contacts or friends) long term contacts(your vetted, People that will look out for you and vice versa.) and short term contacts(your acquaintances/intel sources) They may owe you a favor, or just be someone you just met that hasn’t moved up the ladder yet.

Short term contacts are just what they sound like short term. These are the people that you have recently met, maybe you haven’t vetted them completely enough to make them long term contacts yet, or you just haven’t found a way to work them into your network in more long term way.

These are the people that you maybe threw a bone and did them an easy favor and now they owe you one, or a trade show rep you just met and had drinks with, or maybe the B&B owner who just let you into the property. They may be able to open some doors or point you in the right direction on something if you need it.

You wont spend as much time or effort maintaining the relationship with these contacts but they are good to keep in some contact with as you never know when you might have a need they can help you with, vice versa, or how they could wind up as a long term contact someday.

On the security side this is where you do need to be careful as this is where you have the best chance of stopping insider threats before they start. Trade shows and other events where you will be meeting these new contacts are usually a hunting ground for corporate espionage agents as they are always looking to gain access to some form of insider information that they can either sell to the highest bidder or take back to their own company.

Someone at the hotel or air B&B might be feeding marks to a thief ring or worse.

Long term contacts, these are those you have vetted and given strategic positions in your network. They maybe business partners, friends, they could be your family members, and trusted intel sources but you still may not trust them completely And most of them are not in your inner circle.

These people support you, and protect you and you them. You can generally depend on them but they may or may not drop everything to help you if you need it and vice versa. You’re regularly in contact with them and you may even spend some of your personal time with them.

From the security stand point as you don’t trust these people implicitly you should remain careful what you say around them and monitor what they have access to as this is where they would likely start having access to the more critical information or access to you or your business. This is where some damage can be done in one way or another if a threat has made it this far.

Your inner circle, is where you have your most trusted friends and business contacts that you trust implicitly. This does provide a security risk as they will have the most access to you and any private information, however you should have vetted them and established a tight enough relationship that you trust them in this position. Provided you are careful, only the long cons, very good liers, and people with good back stories or resources should make it this far as threats. The major threat you need to be carful of is people within this circle becoming compromised to the point that someone can control their actions.

You should always strive to have at least a couple super connectors in your network. Especially when you’re growing a business network.

Super connectors are people that either intentionally or as a side effect of their situation (profession or socially) are connected to a large number of individuals in a variety of bubbles (industry or location), professions, or social circumstances.

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