In one “Peanuts” cartoon, Linus makes the mistake of telling his big sister Lucy that he wants to be a doctor when he grows up. Lucy is flabbergasted and laughs at him, saying, “You could never be a doctor! You know why? Because you don’t love humankind!”
Linus responds, “I do too love humankind! It’s people I can’t stand!”
Many of us struggle with relationships yet building relationships – networking – is one of the most important skills we need to develop.
It is so significant that the key line in my networking book, “Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty,” is this: “If I had to name the single characteristic shared by all the truly successful people I’ve met over a lifetime, I’d say it is the ability to create and nurture a network of contacts.”
My passion for networking led me to a new book that I highly recommend. If you only buy one book this year, this should be the one. “What’s In It For Them?” by Joe Polish shows how success comes from winning the right friends and influencing the right people. He has created a framework for filtering right-fit people from wrong-fit ones.
Polish writes: “Any relationship that’s ‘ELF’ (Easy, Lucrative and Fun) is the right fit, and any relationship that’s ‘HALF’ (Hard, Annoying, Lame and Frustrating) is the wrong fit.”
Each chapter explores core principles of connection and highlights key takeaways or “dominoes” throughout and points out the downsides and potential pitfalls. There are specific exercises and action steps at the end of each chapter to enhance learning.
Polish is the founder of Genius Network, a high-level entrepreneurial group and connection network with the goal of building better entrepreneurs. In short, the group is about investing in yourself, your business and your relationships.
Polish is a big believer in my Mackay 66 Customer Profile (free on my website www.harveymackay.com under Resources), which aims to get close to your customers, suppliers or anyone in your network. He looks for the hot buttons that are key to people. He describes a dinner party with Sir Richard Branson where most of the attendees were asking serious questions about climate change, business strategy and so on. Polish had done his homework and knew Branson signed the hard rock group the Sex Pistols when he ran Virgin Records, so Polish asked him what it was like to hang out with Sid Vicious and Johnny Rotten, the band’s famous frontmen. He gained Branson’s attention and his email address for future correspondence.
Another point in the book that stuck with me was situational awareness. Early in his career Polish met with networking guru Dan Sullivan and commented that their marketing “sucked.” Polish didn’t realize that Sullivan’s marketing director was also in the meeting. Big mistake! You don’t influence people by telling them what’s wrong and how to fix it. You tell them what’s right and how to enhance it. Bottom line, do your homework.
Polish points out that you want to be memorable in a positive way. The person who stands out is often the most likely to be remembered. He calls it the “Happy Client Experience,” which means going above and beyond what is expected. I call this delivering more than you promise, which is the subtitle of my book, “Beware the Naked Man Who Offers You His Shirt.”
Networking is about appreciating people. Polish is in constant contact with all kinds of people – and not just his close friends – sharing articles, videos, podcasts and jokes. It’s a form of communication that helps him get things done and builds bonds through mutual appreciation.
He writes: “I do it in a genuine way by making sure the other person is getting what they want as well. An easy way to think of it is with the book’s title question: ‘What’s in it for them?’ The point of asking that is not to make everything transactional but to guard against being manipulative or one-sided in your own actions.”
He added: “One of the most common reasons people go unappreciated is because they give everything they have away for free to the wrong people. There are plenty of times that I’ve been targeted or manipulated by takers despite my best intentions.”
The key for Polish is to get as close to in-person as you can. Strive to close the distance between you and another person by making all experiences with people as impactful as they can be. Send heartfelt notes instead of stock emails or messages. There’s nothing better than the personal touch.
Mackay’s Moral: Networking is not collecting contacts. Networking is about planting relationships.