I had coffee this past week with an old friend. John is a very successful management & sales consultant and trainer who works with clients around the world. We get together once a year or so to get caught up on each other’s families, businesses and so on.
And with John, it’s always the same thing… somehow, we end up talking about how he can help me – with connections, ideas, recommendations. I leave my meetings with him better informed and even a little inspired. He’s incredible.
So when I finally get the chance to say, “John, what can I do for you?,” his response is always the same, “If you know anyone who can might be able to use our services, I’d appreciate the referral.”
Seriously?! That’s the biggest “no brainer” ever! John is so selfless in our interactions… I almost feel guilty if I can’t help him. And it’s not a ploy… John is completely genuine. He’s a “people first” kind of person who believes in the old adage, “Seek first to help… then to sell.”
Now, think about how you network at the conferences you attend. Many of those of conversations are not with prospective clients or vendors, but rather with industry colleagues. What are those conversations like? Are you really engaged… or maybe a little dismissive, so you can go talk to someone that “matters?” And are you focused on helping them at least as much as you want to help yourself?
Don’t get me wrong… this is really hard stuff. The easiest thing in the world is to talk about ourselves – it’s what we’re good at and most comfortable doing. To focus the conversation on the other person just doesn’t come naturally… and so we often end up bringing it back around to us.
But when you’re networking and truly connect with the other person… when you genuinely care and want to help them… when you listen with your ears and your eyes… then great things really can result. Not only will you cultivate relationships with people who will want to “help you back,” you might even make a new, true friend.
Not bad, huh?