Most Professionals understand the power of networking and to be as creative as possible in building a massive pool of influential networks. To do this, we either formed a mastermind or became part of an existing mastermind, where could add value to the lives of others, and that added value to our lives. We also built individual networks, sometimes in unusual ways. When he heard of a personality that we desired to build a relationship with speaking at a business school or gala event, we would learn as much as we could about them, and then at the dinner, asked to interview them for inclusion in our Motivational Speaking content. With the limelight on them, they would obviously be in a good mood, and happily acceded to our request. Most people love talking about themselves, and if you play your cards right by being respectful of their position, status and time, networks can open a plethora of doors that will unlock a myriad of opportunities. We’d start the conversation with a compliment and build on it from there.
If they wrote a book, we’d read something from the middle of their book beforehand, and then talk to them about it. At an event with the Iconic statesman Dr. Ahmed Kathrada we relayed extracts from his bestseller A Simple Freedom, and on the big day, we spoke about his literary eloquence during the networking session. He showed so much appreciation for our preparation in meeting him, that a year later, we jointly delivered the keynote address at an event that we put together. Dr. Michael Jordaan, the extraordinary retired CEO of First National Bank, invited us to use one of his Banks swish auditoriums as a venue, that was savored by over a thousand Entrepreneurs that attended our showcase. The event went off like a gem and we received plaudits from many, including Michael, who gave us the opportunity to represent his Bank at various Parliamentary Portfolio Committees on Economic Development. A few months later, we again enjoyed the company of Kathy, this time over dinner in our very own home.
Networking is incumbent on our journey to achieving success. When you network, find ways of doing something for the other party and expect nothing in return. However, the grateful soul will treasure that act of random kindness and will jump at the opportunity to reciprocate it, even if it is many years later. In our first business, we used the services of a lithographic printer that made the most beautiful business cards for us. This man was very status-conscious who yearned for his Bank’s premier checking account and credit card bundle. He tried many times to upgrade his banking facility, but his Bank Manager would not acquiesce to his request. When we heard of this, we realized that we both banked at the same bank, so we leveraged our influence at the Bank, and after one call to the Bank Manager, he relented, and the printer's account was upgraded to the Banks flagship product. A few months later, the printer heard that we were trying to get our product listed at a leading Wholesaler. However, we weren’t getting anywhere, and just as we were about to throw in the towel, received a mysterious call from the Wholesalers PA to the CEO, who agreed to see us. We got onto a plane and closed the biggest order in our history. This our dear family illustrates the power of productive networking.
We are often asked by our students on whether you need to be extroverted in nature to network successfully. While this certainly helps, it is not necessary. Whether you are extroverted or introverted, do your homework before an event, know what you wish to achieve, and condition your mind that you so are so unique, that even the other seven billion people on the planet are not like you. This will give you the confidence to authentically present your value proposition to the other person.
Excerpt from Highway to Heaven, Isaac Lakhi’s best-seller. To learn more about our Coaching & Mentoring Challenge, click here.