"If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together." - African proverb
Pregame Prep (today's overview)
The power of networking was always discussed during my self-improvement journey. I was repeatedly taught that my network is my net worth, that networks allow us to skip levels, and that strong networks are just as important as my savings in the bank. Initially I didn't fully appreciate just how powerful networks and relationships are to finding freedom, success, and fulfillment. After years of work and building my own new networks I have seen how rewarding and valuable networks actually are. I learned the importance of networks, how to evaluate current relationships, and steps to take to continuously build maintain and grow stronger networks. I am sharing my playbook and game plan with you.
A strong network can take you anywhere you want to go. When you form relationships with the right people you will accomplish more than you can imagine. Opportunities, ideas, inspiration will appear in front of you without you expecting it. Networks offer you support on your journey through life, providing you power and wealth. Networks also provide you the opportunity to empower others. Service to others is where true fulfilment and happiness originates.
Networking and building strong relationships have provided me so many wonderful experiences, I have sailed on a private yacht, visited private islands in the Caribbean, spent weeks in Mexico, cruised the Panama Canal, helicoptered on top of a glacier, fly fished in middle of Alaska on a raft (I could go on for pages).
All of this happened from building strong networks and meeting the most amazing souls you can imagine. I can promise you if I didn't push myself, face my fears, and ignore self-limiting beliefs I would still be trapped in a life I wasn't meant to live, miserable in my daily routine while thinking none of this is possible for me.
If you are thinking you can't have all these experiences because you don't have enough, you aren't enough, or don't know how: I'm here to tell you and to show you that you are wrong!
Film Review (my experience)
I was talking to a coach this week* and she asked "would you say you an introvert or an extravert." I knew the answer immediately: I am an introvert, but I force myself to play the part of the extravert most of the time. This is something I learned to do as part of my path to freedom. Building powerful connections didn't just magically happen sitting on my sofa. Crazy eh?? It's like Wayne Gretzky said: "you miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take." It seems like common sense, but are you pushing yourself? Do you say yes or no to possible opportunities? Think about it... I've learned to say yes a lot, there are some boundaries of course, but saying yes has exposed me to experiences, connections, businesses, and friendships I could never have imagined even in my wildest dreams.
Stepping out of my comfort zone used to scare me. I still remember the first time I attended a three day event in Tampa, Florida not knowing a single person, normally I would at least sorta know one person before I would go to an event. A friend asked me, ''wait you are going all the way to Tampa and you don't know anyone?" "What are you going to do?" What she didn't know was I already had my game plan: instead of being intimidated or becoming a recluse I would introduce myself to 10 people per day, and unlike 99.5% of everyone in attendance I would move to a new seat during each session to find new people to talk to network with. Humans get so caught up in the familiar we like to sit in the exact same chair every single day of an event. You want to see someone super confused, sit in what they think is their chair. I actually had to move a couple of times because a couple people were too confused to find a new spot in the conference room!
Attending this event by myself, stepping out of the comfort zone, was a new beginning to finding my own path to freedom. I started building my own brand new network. I made connections and I learned things that have impacted me for the rest of my life. My biggest lesson after these three days was my biggest fear was being afraid of fear, combined with a touch of what if I get judged, and the self-limiting beliefs every single human has to work through… None of this really matters, its just human ego and silly fears when you zoom out.
Fast-forwarding to present day: I attend various meetings, lunches, dinners, events, activities every week. A lot of the time I don't know anyone, what used to scare me feels totally normal now, its actually fun! I look for new areas of interest or different professional circles, because as creatures of habit, if you attend a real estate lunch meetup, you start seeing the same people over and over, so you need to find other areas that are slightly interesting and just commit to attending some events/meetups. I continue to find opportunities and meet people that provide amazing value to me.
Offensive Game Plan (actions to obtain freedom)
Being the star quarterback for you network is not always ideal. Having a network of teachers, advisors, mentors who are ahead of you is a huge advantage because you get to learn from people who are more knowledgeable, have more experience, and hopefully they know what they are doing. As they share their ideas, you find out their tactics and you apply them to your situation. Do not be the leader of all your networks!
Think of knowledge as power. You will gain lots of knowledge in a strong network. Even bad information is valuable as long as you understand its bad, you can learn from others and not have to experience them first hand. When you expose yourself to new people, new thoughts, you open yourself up to gaining new perspectives.
Do not just attend events or network in your bubble, branch out and meet people you don't know, get comfortable attending and meeting people you don't know and may not totally understand. There is so much growth opportunity being uncomfortable.
If you want the most rewards from your network, you need to build mutual trust. If a quarterback trusts his offensive line he can stand in the pocket longer, wait for the perfect play and pass the ball with confidence. Build mutual trust with your network by offering something of value, proving your worth, and truly expect nothing in return. Invest in relationships with people you respect or want to learn from while keeping in mind each person and each relationship is different. Give the relationship time, and if it doesn't work out, don't hold any grudges.
Defensive Game Plan (actions to defend your freedom)
Watch out for echo chambers! People tend to choose friends who are similar to them. You become more like your friends over time and that influences you more than you might realize. Don't get caught up in networks who always agree or are afraid to be honest. Hearing the truth isn't always pleasant, but living in an echo chamber is far worse.
Don't get caught up in social norms or labels: I used to think I understood what friendship, business networking, mentorship, and even family relationships were or should be. Watch out for statements such as: "oh that's just Kara she's just grumpy" "You can't do that Tony he's your uncle," or "you've been friends with John for 20 years you HAVE to help him with …." You don't have accept labels. Yes, respect your elders, but also put them at the appropriate distance to have the best relationships.
Salesmen are everywhere: people who network with you with the main intent of you buying or paying them will be frequent! Your networking efforts should focus on relationship building, when people come at you with a product or service generally just keep moving! Always understand the return on investment before paying someone. Build a network of people before you need sales, people can quickly identify when you are just contacting them to sell them something the same way people network with you just for sales.
Special Teams: (special exercise/skill for this week)
"You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with." I believe Jim Rohn said this, but many others including my mentors discuss this on a regular basis.
I encourage you to do the following exercise to evaluate your current relationships: (DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP!)
Get a pen and paper (or use a spreadsheet if you insist) Draw 6 columns.
Write down the name of the 5 people you associate with the most
in person or virtually doesn't matter.
you can combine across your personal and professional life or separate
How many hours a week (or day) do you spend with this person
Beside each person's name list their top 3 values or qualities
Scale of 1-5 how do you feel around this person
If they provide you with energy, make you happy put a 5.
If they drain your energy, make you sad put a 1.
Scale of 1-5 how supportive is this person
Do they contribute as much as you give to them put a 5.
Is this person not supportive, is it a one way street put a 1.
Write out their net worth.
Doesn't matter if you are right or wrong, just guess if you don't know.
Evaluate what you wrote down for every person on the list,
This isn't judgmental, this isn't labelling; it is evaluating your network.
Identify misalignments, notice who adds to your growth, and who might not contribute as much.
Does this person have qualities you want, provide value, match you goals?
Decide if you need to move or distance any people from your top 5.
Make room and plans for growing your network
Ask people you lookup to out for coffee, lunch, ice cream.
Provide value to people, offer to help with whatever they need.
Expect nothing in return and just give it a chance to see if this person responds
As you complete this exercise I'm not suggesting removing a person who makes significantly less money than you. I'm not recommending you kick out people who score a 1 in a category. I am recommending that you evaluate who you associate with the most and ensure they align with where you want to be, not where you were or where you are!
Distance yourself from people who do not align. Remove people if they aren't supportive or don't add value. Add people and look for new relationships/networks constantly! Growth and improvement are continuous processes. Our network of friends, family, business associates, community are far more important than you might realize. If they are stagnant and comfortable you will be too, or at the very least you will lack the motivation and support you need!
Audible: (unplanned changes to the plan)
Sometimes people/groups in your network have shifts in energy or you see qualities that make you uncomfortable. What used to feel good or true may suddenly no longer align with your values or you may start feeling distressed. While I don't recommend any sudden changes, when this happens it's important to step back and make sure you aren't reacting out of emotion, but sometimes people change or our initial impression is just wrong. Its time to move on!
If a person/group no longer provides you positive energy you remove the problem, or you distance yourself and stop giving them time/energy. Don't be afraid to make this call. It's difficult to remove people from my network initially, but hindsight these were some of the best plays. Removing a person or a network of people just opens the door for new people/networks!
Fear is interesting: once you get past one hurdle of fear it just moves to another level/place, but after a while you realize even though you might feel afraid or scared, defeating fear is as easy as just facing it, not letting it stop you, and not giving the fear energy. Don't let fear stop you, realize that even your heros have fears.
Post-Game Review (key takeaway)
Your network of friends, colleagues, and family is very important. We are greatly influenced by others and the sooner you realize this and ensure your network is supporting the person you are meant to be, the faster you will find freedom, happiness, and fulfillment. Attitudes and energy are contagious and you want alignment within your network.
What I've found from networking is you learn a lot from other people, but you also learn so much about yourself as well. To be clear, not all meetings and connections are awesome. Pour your energy into people that provide value and feel good and let the negative roll right off. Often times you end up learning something totally unexpected or meeting a new connection at the most unlikely place. That's why you should always keep an open mind!
Get out of your comfort zone. Continuously grow your network seeking friends who are living the life you want or have the career you want. Make friends with your heroes, connect with people who are doing things the right way! Keep doing this, keep providing value and service, and watch how much your life will change.
Hey Coach! (Connect with me)
*Yes I still have coaches, every great mentor I know has coaches. Improvement and growth stops only at death, who is your coach? Are you still growing? Are you Improving? Lets talk, I love to network!
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