I recently saw a blog entry entitled “Networking means you’re looking to use people to achieve selfish goals, or opportunistically ask people for help”
Does that ruffle your feathers? It does mine. Networking can be selfish, but it’s very short sighted to see it that way. It also doesn’t “work” for long. People soon figure out you’re all about you, and they’re not too inclined to help the next time you need something.
Let me tell you a quick story about networking.
The other day I was chatting with a friend about business. He and I are in different fields. There’s little chance that his needs and my services are likely to overlap – or vice versa. Just two friends chatting about current happenings in our lives and business. This is the model that Rabbi Lapin talks about in his excellent book Thou Shall Prosper.
During our conversation I casually mentioned some help I received. I said “I have this friend who used to own an office supply company and he’s been connecting me with some terrific business people in my area.” My friend suddenly was very focused on my end of the conversation – he said “Wait. Does that guy still have any contacts in office supplies?”
It turned out that he was looking for 1,000 dry erase markers for a project in his business and had been having difficulty finding a source for them. There was no reasonable way that I might have either anticipated that he needed that, or that I should make a connection between my friends and their needs.
I believe that business is about serving others. If you serve others well it significantly increases the chances that you’ll profit over the long haul.
The story has a happy ending – I was able to connect my friends and they worked out a win-win deal.
You never know what connections you can make – adding value to each of your contacts – unless you talk about what you’re working on.
Simple, but profound.
Was that selfish? What did I gain from that? The pleasure of having served two others. Was that selfish? You make the call.
What did they gain? New business contacts and one got resources he needed and the other got an easy sale.
Making connections and adding value to others is a part of Raising Your Game.