There’s a secret to this kind of relationship-building. The more you listen to successful people talk about how they form alliances and establish networks, the more you appreciate that they’re all talking about the same thing.
The goal is to build a network in which all the members share an affiliation. They may be in different businesses and they may serve different markets, but all of them have similar core values and passionate interests. That’s why they like spending time with each other and want to help each other. Because when they do, it helps them follow their own passion and achieve their own goals.
Becoming a member of powerful, mutually beneficial networks may at first seem too far to go. Just remember that every person who now belongs to a powerful network started without the connections they have today. So this goal is within reach for you, too.
You begin by building relationships with people who are more successful than you are at the moment. The question is, will they want to associate with you? How will they perceive you?
To appeal to highly successful people, you need to come across as a genuine individual and someone of value—from their point of view. You can’t fake this. The way you act is influenced by how you see yourself. So your first step is to examine how you view yourself. Engage the personal strength of self-confidence until you can acknowledge that you have a lot to offer and can bring something valuable to every interaction.
Once you see yourself clearly, work on developing your gifts and talents. Invest time, money and energy to become outstanding in the area you’re passionate about. When people self-actualize, they increase their potential to contribute, which is what you want your allies to notice.
It’s important to seek out people whose core values and passions overlap with your own. So what are your core values? What is your passion? Achieving clarity about your core values and passion will help you follow a purpose greater than yourself. Develop a compelling vision in an area you care deeply about. When you know what matters most to you, it’s easier to ask questions that get other people to reveal what matters to them.
When you’re ready, identify three to five of the most important players in the area of your passion. Then work on building personal relationships with them. Don’t try to impress them or focus on what they can do for you. Instead, focus on what you can do for them. A common mistake people make is to promote themselves. If you do this, you’ll quickly be seen as a self-serving person, and highly successful people won’t want to associate with you. It’s far more important to listen to learn what their core values are and discover what their passion is.
Find out what drives them. Instead of making statements to prove how smart you are, ask questions—the kind of questions that lead to uncommon insights. In your initial contacts with them, start by asking questions like these:
- "Which of your projects do you care most about?"
- "What’s the biggest challenge you face to achieving it?"
- "What can I do to help?"
Make your goal to give, not to receive. Contribute just for the sake of benefiting the people you want to network with. Collaborate without thinking about a payoff. And when these people return the favor, accept it graciously.
As you discover what matters to this person, find out who else you can connect him with. Who else might help him make progress on his most important project? Who else shares his core values and passion? The secret to connecting is to be a connector. Help the people you want to network with by connecting them with other people who have similar core values and passions. Think of it as creating three-way relationships. The key is to bring two other people together—as the connector, you are the third person.
Then introduce this person to the other person—create the beginning of a mutually beneficial relationship. It’s like karma: both these people will be so delighted with what you’ve done for them that they’ll see you as a valuable ally. The three-way relationship will be formed.
When and where do you do this? The answer goes back to who these highly successful individuals are: action-oriented people. Find out where they work and congregate. Go where they go. Introduce yourself and do a lot of listening. Find out how you can help them. The more you help them, the more they’ll want to help you.
Social networking technology can help. It’s especially useful for follow-up. Face-to-face contact may be the best way to create a high-trust bond; but email, LinkedIn and Facebook can help you grow the relationship.
Continue the process of introducing these people to other people, and your network will grow. Do something every day to work on strengthening the relationships. Eventually, you could become a member of an extremely well-connected network—or of many such networks.
Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., Copyright 2011. Building Personal Strength . (Permission to use photo purchased from istockphoto.com)