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The power of value-added friendships

Some trees have deep, strong roots. Others have shallow, wide roots. When you look at either type, you see a tree that stands tall and lush. But when a storm blows in, the differences become obvious. The trees without depth to their roots topple over easily and crash to the ground hard.

In networking the same differences apply. Some people know lots of contacts. You might be familiar with some of these folks. They seem to know everyone. But don’t be fooled. Unless those contacts have depth, they won’t offer any long-term value to the business.

Don’t let your network be a shallow one. Your network must be strong, deep and broad. Without all three of those characteristics, it could easily topple over in a storm.

As you get to know the people in your network, make an effort to “go deep” with each one. Find ways to help them. Learn about their lives and family. Learn about their goals and challenges. Knowing these things will help you find ways in which you can help them.

Don’t let your network be a shallow one. Your network must be strong, deep and broad. Without all three of those characteristics, it could easily topple over in a storm.

When you help a friend, as BNI founder Dr. Ivan Misner points out in the book The 29% Solution, you instantly become a “value-added” friend, and asset to this individual’s life and business. You’ve demonstrated that you’re in the relationship not just for what you can get out of it, but also for what you invest. You demonstrate reciprocity and caring. You nurture the relationship’s roots so they can become strong, deep and broad.

When you help someone meet a goal, they will in turn want to help you meet one of your goals. It’s human nature. You need to take the lead in this. Don’t expect to sit back and wait for others to help you first. That’s the road to ruin. Those who take the lead and help first are the ones that are the most highly regarded.

Once you know a person’s goals and challenges, you can approach the subject along the following lines:

Last week you were talking about wanting to get in better shape this next year. I’d love to help you make that a reality. Would you let me introduce you to a friend of mine who can help you achieve that goal?

Here are some other tangible ways to deepen the roots of your network by becoming a value-added friend:

Build quality relationships

Take the time necessary to deepen the relationships between you and your referral sources. We’re all pushed for time, but you have to go outside of normal business interactions to make this happen. Invite them to social functions, backyard barbecues and sporting events. The stronger your friendship, the mnore you can expect from these networking efforts.

Don’t just show up

Yes, it’s true that 90% of success is showing up on time. But in networking, it’s not enough to just be there. You need to establish credibility and trust with people before you can expect a relationship to develop. You must be proactive and supportive. This takes time, so don’t rush it.

Start by giving

Instead of asking yourself “What’s in it for me?” ask “What can I do for you?” This is the most powerful way to deepen your network relationships. When building a deep network, do everything you can to bring business and contacts to your networking partners. Get to the point where your networking partners know that you always have something to offer them. This is the heart of the BNI philosophy of “givers gain.”

Farmers know that they have to invest a lot of care and attention into their crop before they can expect a bountiful harvest. It’s the same with networking. It takes a lot of effort and time, but in the end that effort will pay back many times over.

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The power of value-added friendships

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