I was talking to a friend of mine over the weekend and the topic of networking came up (professional not tech). He was asking about the best way to get leads…quickly. I smiled and told him to give leads quickly. He was a little puzzled. I was a little puzzled when I had first heard it too. I think that can be puzzling for many professionals. It’s counter-intuitive but I’ve found a “rule” that applies to many aspects of life. Here it is:
The fastest way to get what you want is to help others get what they want.
Let’s look at this “rule” in another context. The fastest way to get promoted is to help your boss get promoted. You want respect, respect others. There are some nuances to really have this “rule” work for you. One of those nuances: give without expecting a return. Preacher Charles Spurgeon explained a similar concept with this parable:
Once upon a time there was a gardener who grew an enormous carrot. He took it to his king and said, “My lord, this is the greatest carrot I’ve ever grown or ever will grow; therefore, I want to present it to you as a token of my love and respect for you.” The king was touched and discerned the man’s heart, so as he turned to go, the king said, “Wait! You are clearly a good steward of the earth. I own a plot of land right next to yours. I want to give it to you freely as a gift, so you can garden it all.” The gardener was amazed and delighted and went home rejoicing. But there was a nobleman at the king’s court who overheard all this, and he said, “My! If that is what you get for a carrot, what if you gave the king something better?” The next day the nobleman came before the king, and he was leading a handsome black stallion. He bowed low and said, “My lord, I breed horses, and this is the greatest horse I’ve ever bred or ever will; therefore, I want to present it to you as a token of my love and respect for you.” But the king discerned his heart and said, “Thank you,” and took the horse and simply dismissed him. The nobleman was perplexed, so the king said, “Let me explain. That gardener was giving me the carrot, but you were giving yourself the horse.”
Don’t give yourself a horse, give it away: freely, gladly, and earnestly. If you want leads or referrals from someone, give them leads/referrals. It’s in their best interest to keep you happy so they can continue to secure the deals you are bringing them. Don’t hold your gift over them expecting a reward.
Dave, what if I follow your rule and give away dozens of referrals but they still don’t reciprocate? Then you aren’t dealing with someone who has your best interests in mind. Furthermore, that’s not networking. That’s working for free. That brings me to my final point. Who you network with matters. If you aren’t networking with the right people (motivated, ethical, complimentary industry, etc.) you will not achieve success with networking.
- Surround yourself with the right people.
- Provide them with value (referrals, discounted services, etc).
- When you get a referral, be professional, respectful and courteous with your new lead. You aren’t just securing one deal, you’re securing future referrals from networking contacts.
- Go above and beyond to show gratitude to the person who gave you the referral.
- Keep providing value.
Good luck building your network! More to come on successful networking tips.