Networking And Stone Soup

In the tale, Stone Soup, stingy villagers have no interest in sharing their food with anyone but their own.

However, when a peddler offers to share some stone soup with them (essentially rocks in a pot of boiling water), one by one, the villagers begin to share – a head of cabbage here, some salt beef there – and before long a pot of delicious “stone” soup awaits them.

This tale suggests that generosity and altruism are contagious. Nicholas A. Christakis, M.D., Ph.D. and James H. Fowler, Ph.D tested this assertion and shared their results in their book Connected.

120 students were put into groups of four. Each group member was given some money to perform a series of tasks. Members both profited and lost in this capitalistic exercise. Afterward, members had the option of giving some funds to others at their own expense.

The exercise was repeated, with different group configurations. In the first few rounds, no money was gifted.

Unbeknownst to the participants, one of them was a plant — someone in on the experiment. This person was the “Stone Soup Peddler.” At some point, the Stone Soup Peddler started to give away some of his money to others.

In the exercises that followed this exhibition of generosity, the people who benefited from the gift gave more. Even people who had only witnessed the gifting began giving more. These altruistic gestures began to spread through the group.

In business, you depend on others giving to you. You look for people to give you information, and to share referrals, insights, and ideas with you.

But people don’t just give; they are somehow moved and inspired to do so.

As the tale and the study illustrate, you have the power to inspire generosity through your own generosity. Any simple gesture can be contagious – a simple referral, an introduction, or just sharing valuable information. This will inspire your network to give to you and to others.

The Golden Rule In Action

No doubt, when interacting with others at networking events you are hopeful of getting things … clients, important contacts, and useful information. Understand this: They are too. You can make an indelible impression on them by finding some way of helping them – even if only in a small way. So as they talk, run whatever they are saying through a filter that queries: “How can I add value to them?” This is the Golden Rule of Networking – Give first and get second.

There is nothing that says that you have to help them right there and then. If you can help them in that moment, great. If not, do not despair.

Just understand that you make the most of building that connection by trying to find some way you can add value to them later. It might be a referral. It might be a contact. It might be useful information for them.

Networking Conversation

 

At a networking event, once you have exchanged names, conversation will likely ensue. Engage In It.

In so doing, do not start the conversation directly focused on business or professional aspects. That can be off-putting and serve to create an uncomfortable situation. Rather, engage in some small talk. Inquire as to the origin of their name. Ask them about their impressions on the event itself. Get them talking on anything other than business. This will serve to make the connection comfortable.

After a few or even several minutes of small talk, segue over to more professional topics. Ask about their business. How long have they done it? What did they do before? How did they get started?

Once the professional discussion has run its course, segue back to small talk. You can reflect on something professional they said, and tie it back to something within the small talk.

As you engage in conversation, be sure to listen to what they have to say. Focus on them, and not your watch, or who is coming through the door, or anything going on around you.

You should express a genuine interest in what they have to say, especially if it is a topic that you set in motion with one of your questions. To do this, face up to them, make eye contact, and:

• Make sounds and comments to indicate understanding (or simply nod your head) … “Oh, interesting.”

• Ask questions to clarify things … “Now, when you say [blank], what do you mean?

• Echo back what they have said in summary fashion … “So you basically got into business because …”

As they talk look for things you have in common, whether they are shared backgrounds, similar experiences, or other ways to relate to them. You can use these to interject or ask questions, as a means of keeping the conversation going.

Building a Networking Relationship: 4 of 7

 

An often overlooked means of getting people to “Know, Like, and Trust” you is Getting Involved.

To be a successful in any business or profession, you cannot just hole-up in front of your computer and work the phone. You need to shower up, brush your teeth, and get out amongst people. Find groups and organizations to join.

Know this, however, you cannot just belong. You cannot just be in the community. You cannot just be in the Chamber. You cannot just be part of the Church. You cannot just belong.

To effectively network … to develop strong relationships … to build Know, Like, and Trust, you have to get involved. Roll up your sleeves (actually or figuratively) and lend a hand. Be an officer in a group. Be a committee member of an organization. Be something (anything) more than just a name on a membership roster.

Here is the test as to whether you are sufficiently involved – Answer this: If you didn’t show up, would you be missed?

If the answer is no, you need to work harder to get involved. By doing so, you raise your level of exposure and demonstrate your level of commitment to something more than just you. When you do these things, others will not be able to help but Know, Like,

Building A Networking Relationship: 2 of 7

 

Another means of getting others to “Know, Like, and Trust” you is remembering Every Contact Has Opportunity.

It is easy to do and we are all guilty of it – dismissing someone as being of little or no consequence to us. Maybe it was a gas station attendant. Maybe it was a receptionist. Maybe it was the kid delivering the paper.

Know this, however, while everyone may not be your next prospective client, everyone knows someone that might be … not everyone will fit neatly into your network as a center of influence, but everyone is connected to someone who could … not everyone is going to be chock full of useful information, but you can bet they sure know a person who is.

In short, everyone has value and every relationship has potential. Knowing this, everyone deserves and should receive the respect and attention that you would offer your best clients, centers of influence, or prime information source. If you consistently do this, everyone will Know, Like, and Trust you (and people who do not know you will want to somehow be associated with you).

Networking Activities

Networking opportunities fall into three distinct categories: Face To Face … Electronic Encounters … and Social Media.

business competitionFACE TO FACE networking opportunities including, various activities when you are out and about with people. These include:

Structured Networking, like Toastmasters, Rotary, Lions’ Club, or organizations like AmSpirit Business Connections.

Networking Events, including trade shows, volunteer activities, business after-hours, Chamber events, seminars, and even social events like tailgates.

Free-Form Networking includes perhaps a round of golf, meeting over a cup of coffee, or just getting together.

With respect to networking in the modern age, much of what you can do face to face, you can accomplish via ELECTRONIC ENCOUNTERS. More specifically, you network over the telephone, over e-mail and through texting. Remember networking is more than selling and prospecting. It is two or more people working towards their mutual benefit – sharing referrals or contacts, passing on information, being encouraging and supportive.

Finally, in the 21st century, technological innovation has given way to SOCIAL MEDIA websites. These are nothing more than virtual venues where you can network – again, share referrals or contacts, pass on information, be encouraging and supportive.

The main three social media applications are LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, but beyond these are dozens and dozens of others. If used properly, social media will allow you to network on a massive scale, on a worldwide basis, 24 hours a day and seven days a week, and do so with incredible information about your networking partner before you even make contact.

The Proper Networking Mindset

It is vital that you understand three recurring networking themes:

• The Golden Rule of Networkingthink positively slogan on blackboard
• Know, Like and Trust
• Every Contact Has Opportunity

Beyond these, however, you also need to have the correct networking mindset, as attitude is everything:

Believe It Works … Whether you believe networking will work or you don’t, you are going to be right. If you believe in it, you will conduct yourself with confidence and that will draw people to you. If you are skeptical of the activity or its potential, that will serve to repel people from you. Thus, BELIEVE!

You Network Well … Remember: Everything you do is networking… Everything you have ever achieved has involved networking … Everywhere you go is networking … Everyone you interact with involves networking. KNOW THIS … You are much better at networking than you likely give yourself credit.

Be Of The Right Mind … Not every day is going to be a good day. As such, if you are not in the right frame of mind (and cannot get there), save your networking for another day … stay home … off the phone … away from e-mail.

In life, attitude is everything. The same is true in networking. Before you network, get the right attitude.

LinkedIn Active Use: 3 of 4

V (Soup)The third active use of LinkedIn is to add-value by contributing content. Think for a moment as to how you might conduct yourself at a traditional networking event. You stand around talking with people. You start discussions and you contribute to discussions that others have started. You answer questions that others ask and you ask questions that you look for others to answer. LinkedIn provides this same opportunity for its users.

If you go into any of the groups you have joined, you will see that there are usually numerous discussion going on. Jump in and add value.

This does NOT mean pitch yourself or product. It means share an opinion or insight. Offer a solution to a problem. Share your experience as it relates to the discussion.

In networking (whether traditional networking or online), adding value in this manner is critical to keeping you on the minds of others. People want to associate with those that add value. As they cannot help knowing, liking and trusting you.

LinkedIn Active Use: 2 of 4

U (Diagram 3)Being Active on LinkedIn is key. From time to time, however, people are reluctant to do anything on social media simply because they feel woefully behind. They say or think, “I have not done anything on LinkedIn and so I am connected to so few people. What is the point of doing anything now?”

Embarking on LinkedIn can seem daunting, especially when you see what others have achieved in terms of connections, activity and traction. It is easy to have that “I will never catch up” feeling.

Do not despair. There is a quick and easy way of becoming networked on LinkedIn. The second active use of LinkedIn is to take advantage of groups.

Again, social media is nothing more than a giant networking event. Imagine that within this immense, continually-running and information rich event, there are rooms off to the side. Within these rooms are people who all have a common bond or interest.

For some, it is the fact that they are all involved in small business or a particular company. For others, it is based on where they live or went to college. And for others it is just a general interest, such as marketing, engineering or accounting.

For the most part, these groups are highly welcoming and continually interested in new members. So find a group or groups that interest you and sign in. And if you cannot find a group that you would like to be part of, LinkedIn allows you to create a group and start to grow it.

Here are a couple neat things about groups.

First, normally on LinkedIn, you can only invite to connect those that you already know somehow, some way. So if you are just getting started and only have a few (if any) connections, you might feel as if there is no way (or no one to turn to) to get additional connections. Once you are admitted to a group you are able to invite to connect people who are within the group. So get into a group and seek out interesting people to connect with.

Second, normally on LinkedIn you are only permitted to communicate with the people you are directly connected to. So, again, if you have few connections, you have few people to communicate with. Once in a group, however, you are able to directly communicate with all the people within that group.

So joining or starting groups and then interacting within it is a powerful active use of social media.

Networking and Social Media

computerIn the early days of the Internet, companies built websites and then took on the responsibility of supplying all the content. They knew that it was critical to have fresh content as often as possible if they were to have people continue to view their site. And if people did not continue to view their site (known as hits), then they knew they would become far less attractive to potential advertisers.

We all know how this story ended. People invested millions in these websites. From that, stock was sold on Wall Street. And in the end, people lost billions and the economy was thrust into a recession of sorts.

While some proclaimed the World Wide Web as just being a fad, others began to re-tool and take a new approach to the Internet. There are still many sites that depend upon having fresh content to keep people coming back (a great example is Amazon or WebMD). Some developers, however, took a new approach. They created websites where the online content is created everyday by millions and millions of average people using highly accessible and scalable publishing technologies. These developers look to people like you and me to write about what is interesting to us and share things we deem to be important or entertaining. This development is known as Social Media, and it completely shifts how people discover and read, as well as share, news, information and other content.

Certainly, social media gets a bad rap. It can be viewed as an expansive online rumor mill or coffee club. If you approach it correctly, however, it can be a valuable networking tool.

It is important to point out that there are lots of different types of social media. Certainly there are the big three … LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Beyond that there are dozens of others. YouTube is a form of social media just for sharing video. Instagram and Pinterest are for sharing images.

There are sites geared entirely for small business and some just for attorneys … Or writers. The point is that there are tons of different types of social media. Some have better business applications than others, but there are lots of ways to connect with people on the Internet now.