Its one of a million business cliches we hear all the time “You network is your net worth!” which is another way of saying “It's not what you know it's who you know”.
But is this just another cliche or is it true?
Well the answer is… yes and no.
There is no debating that knowing great people that have skills, resources, or connections that would be beneficial to your business or life is important, even crucial to growth.
For example I am going to be launching Legiit the biggest project of my career in the next few days. This is project is going to disrupt the industry and make hundreds of thousand of dollars for countless people.
So what does that have to do with the topic at hand?
Well it wouldn't have been possible without my network.
I have an incredibly successful and expensive web development agency developing this state of the art marketplace.
When it came time to develop the site there was no one else I wanted to work with, and we worked out a deal that is going to be very beneficial to both of us.
On this same project I wanted some really great graphics that reflected my personality, and the culture of the site and community.
This time I reached out to someone I had once sold a $9 Syndwire blast to. In this case there had been a problem with his order that I fixed at no charge. To thank me he sent me a print of original artwork that he did that hangs in my office to this day.
Since that time I have gotten to know him well, and when I needed so graphics for Legiit he was my first and only message.
These sales were all made possible because of other connections I made that had allowed me to grow my services business to the point that people were buying from me. (You can read that story here)
So everything that has lead up to this moment, the biggest in my career, was all made possible because of the hard work I put in, and the relationships I have made. I am still blown away and humbled by it to this day.
So that concludes it right? Your network is you net worth, case closed? Well not quite…
After reading all of that you might be thinking “I need to make some connections, grow my network, and start getting these same kinds of benefits!”
Well that is where most people go wrong with this. They go and seek out relationships with the thought “This person has something I need so I am going to get to know them!”
You can't just come at people with the intention of extracting something from them. You shouldn't even make that a goal.
What you need to do is get to know people in a genuine way. Not just about what they do that you need, but who they are as people.
You have to have what I call right intention. Make a friend, not someone you see as a tool. If they never benefit you then you have at least made a friend. At the same time a friend is far more likely to want to help you then someone you tried to “add to your network” by “providing value”.
I see people go about this the wrong way all the time. I probably get 50 messages a week on Facebook and Linkedin that friend me and immediately say “Hey great to connect Chris! What are you working on in your business?” do you see what's wrong with that? People don't naturally talk that way, especially to someone they just met. They are trying to “build rapport” so they can “add me to their network”. In fact many times they will send another messages a few days or weeks later asking me for something… even if I didn't respond.
That doesn't work.
You have to stop thinking of people as a free resource. If you need professional work done and don't want to take the time to build a network then just pay a stranger full price for their service. That's ok.
But if you want to grow your network treat people like people, make some friends, help them with whatever you can help them with and if some day they can help you back that's great. If not then at least you have made a friend and built some good karma.
Yes. There is nothing more valuable in business to have than a strong network. But it has to be built the right way, with the right intention, otherwise you're just wasting your time.