Written by: John Humphrey, EVP & CRO, Cyber Group Inc.
Relationships are more important than ever, and yet, in the WFH world, you are not meeting for coffee, drinks after work or attending networking events in person. It is easy to conclude that networking is impossible in a COVID world. Is that true? I give it an emphatic NO! Instead of thinking about networking as a series of activities that lead to something you want, think about it as a process of helping others get what they want! If you do this, you will never be able to out-give your network.
As you begin your journey, focus on casting a wide net and being authentic in all that you do. By just being kind and helpful, you will be amazed at what can happen. You will learn that by being a giver, the natural laws of reciprocity activate. The age-old saying, “What goes around, comes around,” will never be more accurate in any other activity than it is in connecting. The more you give, the more you connect, and the more it comes back to you in ways you can never know or predict. The friends and relationships you form will change your life and be in your life forever.
By genuinely giving, you will begin to see that business is about choosing to be surrounded by those you trust and admire. I promise that if you apply yourself to these practices, you will never go hungry, never want for a dollar, and no organization will ever control your future. You will be able to live by the tenet that you received ten times more than you were ever able to give away to others. Best of all, you will enjoy your work life, home life, and relationships more than ever.
In his book, Give and Take, Adam Grant, Ph.D., lays the foundation for pondering the concept “why givers do better in almost every way.” The author lays out study after study and example after example of successful individuals who care more about helping others than gathering mantles of success for themselves.
When people talk about networking, they often interchange the words above. I’d like to create some definitions for you and provide an index of activities to begin understanding.
Connecting is the process of getting beyond the platitudes of networking and doing something for others as a servant leader with no expectations of any return.
Networking is the activity of doing, whether reaching out to someone, attending an event, writing a blog, or speaking at an event.
Selling is the process of helping a person or a company with a challenge that they face where they exchange money for a product or service you offer.
I think about these three things differently because it helps shape how I plan my days and weeks. A reminder, this is a lifestyle and long-term view. Nothing happens quickly. Here are some activities that might be grouped under each area:
There is a lot here, but it starts with caring. If you don’t care, reciprocity never happens.
Zig Zigler was famous for saying – “remember the 11th commandment, thou shall not kid thyself.” When I first heard this advice, my first thought was, “I thought there were only 10 commandments!” Then, I thought about it. We can fool those around us – our friends, our family, our bosses, our colleagues. We can offer up a mostly right status, and nobody will know the difference. What Zigler was saying was that you would know the difference. Never fool yourself.
So that began my journey to start connecting with others. When I co-founded Pariveda Solutions in 2003, we implemented a methodology that I had created called Networking for Life. Pariveda has no direct salespeople, so everything is about relationships. Many friends left and started companies of their own, and they use this same methodology. This is what we do at Cyber Group. The key is that you track your progress. Your boss doesn’t track your progress; you track it. We now call that system of tracking, TouchPoints, and because we are a Salesforce Partner, we implemented it in their Salesforce.com infrastructure. We keep track of totals by each category described above, and the system sits on top of Salesforce’s Sales Cloud.
Each time you do something by helping others by Connecting, whether reaching out, helping someone find a job, planning a vacation, buying a car, or hiring an intern, whatever, track it.
Under the Networking section, there are topics that you would expect from writing to attending, to speaking.
Finally, we track basic selling activities.
I coach and train many people every week in this methodology. It works and has worked for over 25 years in my career. Because we are a technical firm, most of the people we work with are technicians, introverted by nature. They say, “that works for an extrovert, but not me.”
I will tell you it will work for anyone who works it. In most companies, personal growth happens through generating net new business and building long term relationships. This should not be a secret. Sometimes overcoming your fear is the first big step. Then, it’s about caring about people, helping them, and trusting that what goes around really does come around!
I can tell you that it does, and I think many who read this will agree!
Please let me know what you think.