This is part two in a ten part series of lessons I have learned along the way…
“Some day, and that day may never come, I will call upon you to do a service for me. But uh, until that day, accept this justice as a gift on my daughter’s wedding day.” Such were the words from Don Corleone to Bonasera in the movie “The Godfather.” While “The Don” was a fictional character based on a criminal whose ethical and moral compass was badly askew, Marlon Brando’s character was practicing one of the basic premises of networking – the law of reciprocity.
Great networkers understand that what you provide for someone else often comes back many times in return. In simple terms, I do something for you and perhaps you can do something for me. Too often aspiring networkers head off to that Chamber of Commerce after or before hours, or that business leads group, in the hope of meeting more people to sell their products. The more folks they meet, the more opportunities they have to sell.
Effective networkers build relationships, they do not sell products. It is a process based on communication and trust. Imagine you are building a home – a home which sits on a firm foundation of integrity, built brick by brick. Our relationships are built much the same way as we create a lasting relationship built with each contact, each single communication one instance at a time.
In 1993, I was hired at my first Chamber of Commerce in the low country of South Carolina. My Chamber Chairman Gene King imparted on me at the time, “It’s not how much you know or for that matter what you know, but who you know that will open doors of opportunity for you.”
While I agree with that statement, I’ve always thought it might also be who you know, that trust you, that may can connect you to someone else who opens that door of opportunity for you. You want to create a network of people who champion your cause and that too is made possible by strong relationships.
Gene King was also aware of another basic premise of networking and that is the law of expectations. The very best networkers, those who excel in the life skill regardless of their vocation or hierarchy in their business, understand what happens when we give without expectations of receiving something back in return.
Quite simply, it’s not what we gain by our acts of charity or assistance, but what we become when we help others achieve their goals and their personal best. Certainly King, from Holly Hill (SC), worked to make his community and the region a great place to live and work. He sought to inspire and motivate others and was the driving force in creating the Tri County Region Chamber of Commerce impacting a great many lives today.
Over the course of my career both in civic service and two decades in the Chamber of Commerce field, I’ve observed some of the very best networkers. They are masters of their craft but each learn something new every day. The lesson I’ve learned along the way is that true networking is not about how many people you can meet but evolving into the person that people want to meet and introduce to others. You know you’ve arrived when “you” become the offer they can’t refuse!