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Don’t Keep Score – Generosity is the key to a successful Personal Network

July 7, 2010 3 comments

As mentioned in my previous post – I’ve been reading (and getting inspired by) Keith Ferrazzi’s book “Never Eat Alone”. Some of the presentation is definitely aimed at the US market (who are much more “forward” than us shy/retiring Brits) – but the principles dealt with in the book are excellent.

There are several areas that Keith deals with that are key elements of building a strong, supportive Personal Network. He explains these well – and puts forward some illustrative personal stories and anecdotes that bring these principles in focus.

There is a thread through the book – and is supported by many other blogs, articles and books that I have been

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reading – that generosity is an absolutely crucial element of building a Personal Network. Following the Farming analogy from the previous post about Dr. Ivan Misner – you reap what you sow!

Early in Keith’s book “Never Eat Alone” there is a chapter called Don’t Keep Score. I particularly like this extract (reproduced with permission) to illustrate the point:-

“A network functions precisely because there’s recognition of mutual need. There’s an implicit understanding that investing time and energy in building personal relationships with the right people will pay dividends. The majority of “one percenters”, as I call the ultra-rich and successful whom many of my mentees aspire toward, are one percenters because they understand this dynamic – because, in fact, they themselves used the power of their network of contacts and friends to arrive at their present station.

But to do so, first you have to stop keeping score. You can’t amass a network of connections without introducing such connections to others with equal fervor. The more people you help, the more help you’ll have and the more help you’ve have helping others. It’s like the Internet. The more people who have access, and use it, the more valuable the Internet becomes. I now have a small army of former mentees, succeeding in any number of industries, helping me to mentor the young people that come to me today.

This is not softhearted hokum; it’s an insight that hard-headed business people would do well to take seriously. We live in an interdependent world. Flattened organizations seek out strategic alliances at every turn. A growing pool of free agents are finding the need to work with others to accomplish their goals. More than ever before, zero-sum scenarios where only one party wins often mean, in the long run, that both parties will lose. Win/win has become a necessary reality in a networked world. In a hyper-connected marketplace, cooperation is gaining ground on competition.

The game has changed.”

It’s an excellent (and fundamental point) for Personal Network growth – well expressed by Keith. It sets me a serious challenge as I try to find a way to visualise (and value) Personal Networks … because the inclination is always to keep score! How do you measure the strength of the Personal Network without getting in to the frustratingly anal world of CRM solutions which track every dot and comma of commercial relationships!

I am sure this topic will come up again and again – if your Personal Network grows through your genuine generosity – how can you really know your network without giving some value to your individual “giving”?

I am halfway through Keith’s second book “Who’s Got Your Back” – good read so far … maybe there will be further inspiration on this topic in there. If I like the book, I might even become a student at Keith’s Relationship Masters Academy: http://www.relationshipmastersacademy.com/

Farming NOT Hunting – “Drop the Gun, Grab the Plough (Plow)”

July 2, 2010 1 comment

When setting out on this Personal Network journey – I was surprised to find that there was very little about networking stacked on the bountiful business bookshelves of the US or UK. The two publications I did find were “Networking like a Pro” by Dr. Ivan Misner and “Never Eat Alone” by Keith Ferrazzi.

Being a Brit (and these titles being off the US bookshelf) it was immediately apparent the very different cultures of our two English speaking nations. The principles stay the same – but us Brits are so much more uptight/shy! Maybe that’s why I like Americans and being in the US so much?

There are some real gems in both books – and today I want to deal with a crucial topic in Dr.Ivan Misner’s book – a personal network grows

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for the long-term with a farming approach! The wham-bam style of the hunter is not going to work if you seriously want to develop a valuable personal network.

Here’s the key section of “Networking like a Pro” (quoted with permission) that resounded so strongly with me:-

“If we could impart one piece of wisdom regarding networking and getting more referrals, it would be this; networking is about farming for new contacts, not hunting them down. It’s a point that needs to be made, because most business professionals go about networking the way our cave-dwelling ancestors did when hunting for food – aggressively and carrying a big stick.

You will see them at any gathering of businesspeople. They’re so busy looking for the next big sale or trying to meet the “right” prospect that they approach networking simply as an exercise in sifting through crowds of people until they bag the ideal client, the big customer who can turn their business around. They don’t have time for regular people like us; they’re stalking the director of marketing, chief operating officer, or other high-octane connection looking for the big kill.

“Farmers” take a different approach They don’t waste time looking for the right person; instead, like those who plant seeds and patiently nurture their crops, they seek to form and build relationships wherever they can find them. If they get an immediate payoff, that’s fine, but it’s not their principal goal. They know that the effort expended upfront will pay off in a rich harvest later on – much richer than the hunter’s quick kill – and that truly profitable relationships can’t be rushed.”

Thank you Ivan for this insight (and permission to use this quote) – it must be in the top 3 mantras for anyone serious about building their personal network.

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