Whatever you most want, first, help someone else

IMG_6470It’s an amazing dichotomy of life – the more we pursue something for ourselves, the farther away it seems to move from us. Just like the end of the rainbow – the closer you get, the more elusive it becomes. However, when we help others achieve their desires, its amazing how we manage to achieve our own as well. That’s the true secret of the superconnector (Ferrazzi 176).

As Dale Carnegie once said, “you can be more successful in two month by becoming really interested in other people’s success than you can in two years trying to get other people interested in your own success,” (Ferrazzi 177). However, I find the greatest challenge in networking is having something meaningful to say. It’s a little tacky to just straight out ask, “what’s your pain,” then go about trying to solve it. Finding out what people want is a process you have to ease into. Even if they tell you right away, that’s probably not what they really desire. You’ve got to dig deeper.

Ferrazzi notes that people don’t only hire people they like, they hire people they think can make them and their companies better (205). And there is a fine line here. A perfect example came a few years ago after the President had just appointed John Pistole to head up the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). I saw Pistole at a industry conference later that year, and as tradition called, afterwards he was swamped with a dozen hangers on all trying to meet him and shove some literature about his product into his hand. He graciously denied all such offers and told everyone to follow the proper channels.

See, Pistole is the former assistant administrator of the FBI and you don’t achieve that position by becoming friendly with vendors and circumventing the government purchasing processes (at least not until you actually know these people). The saavy networker in this situation pays attention to the man’s speech for what is important to him. At the time, he was preaching risk based security and the behavior detection program. Then, the savvy networker goes about identifying solutions, examples, ideas along these lines, and uses his network to connect with the man later.

All of this leads to the fact that to become successful, you must figure out how to make other successful.

  • Develop and have your own ideas and perspectives on things – you won’t please everyone, but it’s better than trying to be on all sides – as Mr. Miyagi (actor Pat Morita) said in the Karate Kid movies, ‘walk left side of road, okay, walk right side of road, okay, walk middle, SQUISH! like bug.”
  • Being known is notoriety. Being known for something is respect (Ferrazzi 207). Don’t be a generalist – get good at something and then get even better at it – perfect your skills – then, start giving speeches, writing articles and connecting with other top minds in your field of expertise (Ferrazzi 214)
  •  The people who are known beyond their cubicle, have greater value – if you hide your accomplishments, they’ll remain hidden (Ferrazzi 232)
  • Build relationships with the media – it’s easier than you think. Reporters are always looking for interesting stories and perspectives (Ferrazzi 237). Reach out to them. Their email addresses are quite accessible but remember, make sure you (a) know what you’re talking about and (b) don’t go to them with fluff. That will end the relationship quickly.

Finally, play golf. Okay, you can play other sports and still network, but sorry guys, my hockey days are about over, as are my other contact sports. Golf is a sport you can play well into your twilight years and many a deal gets struck on the golf course. You’re spending 4-5 hours with you key contacts – it’s an intimate setting and there are few distractions. Golf remains the true hub of America’s business elite (Ferrazzi 257). If you suck, take some lessons. If you suck while playing, just don’t slow down the pace of play  – it’s not the U.S. Open and you’re not Tiger Woods – keep in mind that the goal of network-golfing is relationship building, not your scorecard.

And it doesn’t hurt if you can help out your playing partners as well from time to time. Remember, it’s not about what they can do for you, it’s about what you can do for them. Life will reciprocate. 

Ferrazzi, Keith, and Tahl Raz. Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time. New York: Currency Doubleday :, 2005. Print.


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