85% of jobs are filled via networking.
I read this recently on one of Lou Adler's LinkedIn articles. This is a big reason why people start networking. People want to get something out of it. But if you focus too much on what you will get out from networking, you’ll miss the mark. People won’t care about you until they realize how much you care about them. So instead, focus on helping others and you will achieve incredible things.
I was terrible at networking when I first started. I treated it too much like a business transaction. I wasn’t human. But then a friend gave me some well-timed advice that I will never forget.
The goal of networking is to build friendships.
That realization changed everything. I came into networking initially to “network.” But with some tweaks and good advice, I found something so much better.
I found real friends.
And those friends have helped me achieve more than I ever dreamt possible. I cannot understate that. So, let me say that again: Those friends have helped me achieve more than I ever dreamt possible.
For me, there has been two keys to building a great network.
- Get Out There
- Authentically Help Others
Get Out There
Start by just getting out there. Go to events. Stick your hand out to a stranger and say “Hi my name is…” Walk up to a group of people and introduce yourself. It is terrifying. But just act on it. The longer you wait to act, the worse it gets in your mind. It isn’t nearly as bad as you make it out to be. Plus, most everyone else is just as scared as you.
Find local business events, industry conferences, or meetups. You could try a website like meetup.com to find people interested in the same things as you. Then once you start to meet people, ask them what other events might be good for you to attend. That really gets the ball rolling and you will start finding incredible events that you didn’t even know existed.
Authentically Help Others
The most important take away is to be authentic and help others. Ask the people you meet to join you for coffee or lunch. Ask them about their passions and interests. Get to know them and look for ways you can help. Because here is the most important piece I can give you about networking:
Help others reach their dreams and they will likely help you reach yours.
One Last Story
One of my connections was my biggest competitor. We met several times and really connected. I realized that he was an incredible human being. Over time he became a friend. Then one day, disaster struck. We had a maintenance emergency. I exhausted all my options. But then I remembered my competitor. In a moment of desperation, I called him. And he stepped up in a big way to help me out.
It was incredible!
I want to help him in a big way as well. He has been looking for help networking and getting some more exposure. I’ll be speaking at a North Metro Chamber of Commerce event where I’m going to introducing him to some important connections. I know that’s going to help him better reach his dreams.
That’s the power of building up real friends.
We all fight hard to help each other out.
And together we can accomplish far more than we could apart.
A Special Note
I wanted to share a special word to the people who have been so gracious to like, comment, and message me. I’ve really enjoyed connecting with you. I feel like I’m starting to build some incredible friendships through LinkedIn. I didn’t think that was possible. But you have been an inspiration to me. You all have an unquenchable desire to do great things. So…
Let’s change the world together!