My dad always says: “The top successful people in a society, in whichever environment, is the one with lots of connections and business networks.” I can’t help but agree with that, because you all know that a person is shaped by the influence coming from others surrounding him. That makes networking a pivotal part for anyone who wants to succeed in life/business. So what are the secrets for successful networking? Especially when you want to network with people who are more powerful, more influential, and richer than you both in terms of life experiences and social status? Michael Ellsberg focuses his 2nd chapter on this: “How to Find Great Mentors and Teachers, Connect with Powerful and Influential People and Build a World-Class Network.”
Ellsberg talks about using your “Connection Capital” to build your network. By introducing people when you don’t have the skills to help, you’ve made them a part of your network also. And this seems obvious enough, but how do you use your network to grow your network when you don’t have a network?
Michael recommends giving relevant and valuable advice. Even if you think you don’t have any advice to offer, you probably do. These are the areas that Eben Pagan, one of the interviewees in the book, says people spend most of their time worrying about: money, relationships, and health. Very few people have all three figured out and if you can uncover the one they need help with, and give good advice, you’ll be able to bring them into your network. So how can you uncover their area of worry?
This is my favorite part of the chapter (Direct quote here):
“I’m going to teach you two questions that, if you put them into use at parties, events, and conferences, will change your life forever and will grow your network faster than ever thought possible:
- What’s most exciting for you right now in your life/business?
- What’s challenging for you in your life/business?”
And of course, these won’t be the first questions to ask when you approach someone for the first time, only when you have built some sense of familiarity and trust with that other person.
Let’s check out this talk that Michael gave at Awesomeness Feet 2012 (starts at 17:15 for the 3 phases of a networking conversation):
Thinking back of my past networking experiences, I have to say that the best connections I’ve made all come from personal sharing and selfless giving. An example is the one I’ve made with Mr. Doug Price, Denison alum Class of 1983 and Managing Director of Capital Advisors, Ltd. He’s the host for my externship at his firm in Cleveland in January last year. Normally, undergraduate students will only talk to the host about the company, job prospects, classes to take, or resume building skills when doing this kind of career outlook. However, our conversations also steer towards international students, Vietnam, sports, youth development… things that I’m also good at and can actually give relevant advices to him (as his second child is still in high school). Later in the year, I met him again at the Leadershape Institute where he was a guest speaker; and I was happy that he still remembered very well. That’s a good example of successful networking.
And you, what do you think about successful networking? Do you agree with Michael’s approach? Share your stories below!
Ellsberg, Michael. The Education of Millionaires: Everything You Won’t Learn in College About How to Be Successful. New York: Portfolio, 2012. Print.