Social networking is an amazing phenomena. What would people who lived 100 years ago think of our definition of ‘friends’? I refer to friends I’ve never really met. I pray for people who are only a series of online pictures and comments to websites. Believe me I am not deriding social networks. My life, and business are better for them. There is a need however for REAL social networking. Old School. Actually talking to real people. Seeing how relationships can be mutually beneficial. When we really take on these kind of relationships we start leading our lives at a higher level. Productivity and satisfaction increase, stress and frustration decrease. For Example:
My wife attends a book club. While there, she’s chatting with the host about my transition into coaching after 16 years of serving as a pastor. The host and my wife chat about coaching, and the host says, ‘My husband could use some coaching.’ The husband hears this and says, “Yeah, I could. What if Matt and I trade services?” I called this “Husband of the woman who hosts the book club that my wife attends’, and it all came together! He said to me, “I’ve found that in this work-for-yourself world that key relationships are much more valuable than just another project.” He gives me incredible service in his area of expertise. I help him with coaching and both of us are better for it.
These networks don’t just happen. Not long ago I was speaking with someone who is looking to launch a career in a different field than he had worked in previously. He is frustrated about the lack of opportunities that seem to be out there for him in his new field. These opportunities don’t just come pounding on your door. They happen when you look for Real Social Networks. So how do you cultivate these relationships anyway?
1. Look and listen for Real Social Networks. There are so many people out there that you can help, who also want to help you. Open eyes and ears for people. Almost anyone in any field can contribute to who you are, and vice versa.
2. Equip trusted others to look and listen for Real Social Networks. My wife connects me with people all the time. Good friends help me build a real network. Here’s how I do it. To almost anyone I genuinely know and trust (and vice-versa), I say “If there are people you know that I can SERVE, let them know and let me know too.”
3. Follow up…then follow up some more. When a Real Social Network opportunity comes about. Email, call, email again. When you talk or write them, focus on what you can do to serve them and bless them. If the connection takes root, great. If not, stay in touch regularly to see how what YOU can do for THEM.
4. Go ahead and ask. This is related to follow-up. If you never ask to build this kind of relationship it will NEVER happen. Think of it this way, you don’t have the network with the person currently. If you ask them about a mutually beneficial network and they aren’t interested, no harm is done. But the likely response will be, ‘Sure, that sounds great.’ And life gets better for BOTH of you.
5. Be a ‘Love Cat’: Tim Sanders is a ‘people-centric business expert’. In his book Love is the Killer App, he talks about how being a ‘love cat’. Simply that means to openly and aggressively share 1.)Your Knowledge 2.)Your Networks and 3.)Your Compassion with everyone you can. Sharing generously in those areas doesn’t really cost you anything. When you give of them freely, what you give and receive is monumental. Be abundant. Share!
Big Question: Who is someone you can forge a Real Social Network with? What will you share with them?