If there is one phrase that you should live by in business it is that which is the title of Keith Ferrozzi book; “Never Eat Alone.” The idea of this phrase is simple, the truth is that actual relationships with people are a big key to success. People hire, buy from, and give money to people and businesses that they like. Knowing this it is important to build mutually beneficial relationships with others.
So how do you build a mutually beneficial relationship with a stranger? If you do something to make someone else more successful, they’re more likely to value your relationship with them, and the more relationships you have with value in them, the more valuable you become, not only to yourself, but to the world: your employers, your clients, and so on. To put this into practice, try and give everyone you meet 51% of the value of a relationship. You will easily see how successful you will become living off of the 49%.
When giving someone 51% of the value of a relationship, it is important that you don’t keep score. If someone calls you up and asks for a favor that you can easily accomplish, make it so and don’t look back. Relationships are not finite things that are a straight-up exchange of one thing for another – they are living, breathing things. If you are going to take the time to connect with somebody, you should be willing to try to make that person successful. If they succeed, you succeed – it’s that simple.
The main idea here is that you should begin reaching out to others and building your network of contacts before you need anything from them. If you start networking just as your job is about to die, or your company needs funding, it’s too late. Get out there and network, join community groups that interest you, take leadership positions in hobby groups that interest you, enroll in a local community college class on the topic of interest, or try to become involved with an approved work project that enables you to come into contact with more people. Then, as you’re exposed to more people, gravitate towards the ones who are involved with things that you want to be doing
Here are some rules to live by to make sure you are networking right:
- Don’t schmooze: have something to say, say it with meaning, and focus on establishing a few good connections than spending your time surfing the room.
- Don’t rely on gossip because it paints a picture of untrustworthiness.
- Be willing to give something away – bloggers who give away content to their readers.
- Don’t treat those under you poorly, ever.
- Be transparent – if you want to meet someone and are happy to meet them, say so.
- Don’t be too efficient – make genuine, individual connections. If you’re going to take the time to touch base with a contact, write to that person individually, don’t just include them on a big ol’ email to hundreds of people at once that starts off with “Dear friend!”
No successful person is completely self-made, everyone needs help from each other.