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Nothing in Return?

March 21, 2010 |  by  |  Business Development

I have many vivid memories of when I began my professional life, but one event in particular stands out in my mind. One of the speakers at a training session I attended talked about the concept of networking with others and why it is so important. He spoke about the many benefits of networking and a concept that he shared with us was that you should carefully choose who you network with.

The speaker went on to say that you should only network with people who could refer business back to you. He stated it was a good idea to keep track of how much business someone refers to you and how much you refer to them. As a young professional, not really having many contacts, I found myself somewhat intimidated by his advice.

The big question many business owners and professionals have today is “What does it take to be successful in business?” With that question in mind, I would like to share what I think is one of the most important, if not the most important aspect to succeeding in business – networking. However, I promise you will not have to develop a complicated tracking system.

To this day, I have remembered his comments about networking, but I never could adapt to the mindset he shared. Essentially his concept was to only assist others if they were able to help you in return.

Instead, I use a much more simpler approach that you may want to try out. This approach has nothing to do with trying to determine if the other person can help you nor does it have anything to do with keeping score, but rather it is simply identifying what can you do to help others, while expecting nothing in return.

This approach, which I am absolutely convinced has tremendously increased not only my bottom line, but has also greatly influenced those individuals with whom I have come in contact. Everyone in business knows the concept of cash capital, the amount of cash you have in the bank. However, there is another type of capital that is even more important than the amount of money you have in the bank; it is social capital. Social capital is the value of various relationships that you establish during the lifetime of your career.
The quantity of your social capital is not nearly as important as the quality of the individual relationships you develop. Basically, what we are talking about is how deep are your relationships are with the people you interact with.

A quick question is to ask yourself, “In the past month, how many people have proactively helped out without expecting anything in return? For example, if you are talking with someone and in the course of the conversation you discover they have a problem that needs to be solved – you view it as an opportunity to help them and spring into action and offer your assistance.. A very important point is that you should not have the expectation that you will be receiving anything in return.

A very interesting thing happens when you adopt this mindset – you become a better listener because you are always on the lookout to help others.

Too many times people will only help others if they believe their assistance will provide them a direct benefit. I do not agree with this way of thinking as it will damage the quality of your social capital. In other words, do you want to be labeled professionally or personally, as someone who will only help if they get something in return or would you rather to be viewed as someone who will just help?

Most people are impatient and as a result, they can only visualize being ‘paid back’ in the short-term. These individuals lose sight of the bigger picture and will be less inclined to put any effort in providing assistance or they will provide quick responses without any real substance or helpful information. Get rid of the mindset of “What’s in it for Me” and adopt the mindset “What’s in it for Them”.

I firmly believe in some cases when you help others it does come back full circle. The one thing you should keep in perspective is that you do not know when or if it will benefit you. One of the critical concepts is that when you help someone you have to do it in a sincere manner and without the expectation that they will return the favor.

If you are uncomfortable or unfamiliar with traditional networking, then you should give this approach a try. Make it a point of helping someone once a week without looking for anything in return. You will be amazed at the results.

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