Networking According to TLB

I am delivering this speech to the Christian Employment Network on 2/29/10

First things First –what is Networking?

I define Networking as the:

“Act of finding, developing and nurturing relationships that can mutually move people forward thru life.”

Nothing less, nothing more

Ok, we know there are lots of tools that are mentioned when we say networking:

The newest tool available to you is CEN.

There are the web tools like Face Book & My Space, LinkedIn, Plaxo, Twitter,
Monster, CareerBuilder, Hot Jobs, Dice, Eharmony, Match.com, Friend Finder, Great Expectations, SugarDaddie, IDate, OK that’s enough, you get the point and I struggle keeping track of all these passwords anyway..

Oh yeah – the best tool ever for networking – you & all you have to offer.

Face-Face networking is the most powerful way to Mutually move people forward thru life.

OK – now how do we network?

We do it every day of our lives.

We started this activity when we were in Pre-School and Daycare.

We actually used the phrase – “Will you be my friend” or “Will you play with me”

And even, “I’ll invite you to my birthday party if you invite me to yours”
Even in kindergarten, mutually moving people forward thru life.

We continued Networking in High School – but I assure you, we didn’t call it that.

We joined clubs, Youth Groups and even specific classes, with the primary intention of being a part of a group, to be with people who had similar interest or to meet people of the “Opposite Sex”.

A friend of mine told me that he joined the debate club to be friends with a boy whose father owned the local pizza joint and he wanted to get a job there. It worked. He joined the debate club, worked hard for the club and then was able to get help from the other kid to meet his Dad and get the job.

In college we joined fraternities and clubs to meet people who had similar interests or could help us move forward with our goals.

Maybe the goals started out simple and shallow (beer, girls), but as we matured in college we turned these activities into meeting people who could help us with our classes and move us forward in our degrees and then into internships and jobs.

Finding, developing and nurturing relationships that can mutually move people forward thru life.

As a business developer in the sales world, I network all different ways, in order to find people or businesses that I can help and who could possible benefit from my services. Done properly, it works.

I truly believe that networking has propelled me in my professional and business life.

Getting to know people and helping them with their needs in turn has helped me to create new relationships and numerous business opportunities

A good friend of mine asked me to be on a committee with him years ago and today, he is one of my top clients.

A while back while working on hiring a lady for a new position, I called her references. One of the references was so thankful that I was helping her friend that she introduced me to the Hiring Manager of her company who said we could talk about her hiring needs in the near future.

Years ago, I asked a new acquaintance to help me with a charitable project, he agreed and today he is the insurance agent that serves me and my 4 independent daughters.

I met a lady at a local Chamber group a few years ago and after learning about her as a person and professional, I hired her to manage my retirement funds.

I joined a local Toastmaster club 8 years ago and thanks to one of my good friends in that club, I have the job that I have today.

Networking is the act of finding, developing and nurturing relationships that can mutually move people forward thru life.

Networking works as long as you know people. I call this Your Circle of Contacts.

On the count of 3, everyone turn and look at the person closest to you. If you can, stick out your right hand, shake this person’s hand and introduce yourselves.

1, 2, 3

Now thanks to that task, you may have met someone new. Congratulations, that is step 1 of Networking.

It’s really is that easy.

It may require you get out of your element a little bit, especially if you are not comfortable meeting new people, or going to new places.

I can make it a little easier for you as well.

Let’s use both hands for this next activity.

I am going to name some people. Raise one of your hands if you know any of these people well enough to have a cup of coffee, glass of sweat tea or after 5 drink. Raise both hands if you know more than 2 and start waving your arms in the air if you know more than 5 people in this list.

Brother, Sister, Church member, Mother, Father, Neighbor, Minister, Priest, Barber, Ex-wife, Electrician, Plumber, Good Friend, Mechanic, Brother-in-law, Farmer, Mailman, Another Neighbor, Banker, Attorney, Ex-Fellow employee, Old-Boss, Sister-in-Law, Ex-husband, Newspaper delivery man, Coach of your kids sports, Massage Therapist, Weatherman, Mother-in-law, Grocery Store Manager.

Great – put your arms down now.

Folks – Networking starts simply by talking with people you know.

Ask these people to introduce you to others who they feel could mutually move forward thru life by knowing you.

Maybe people who can help you with the task of finding a new job, career or business opportunity.

And remember – if anyone helps you in any way; be prepared to help them when the asked.

Networking as I have defined it (mutually moving people forward thru life) works best with a growing Circle of Contacts.

Ask your friends to introduce you to others, get to know these new contacts and then follow the edict

Ask them if there is anything you can do to help them.

And – Then Ask if there is anyone else they think could mutually move forward thru life, by meeting you.

There is another group of contacts that I encourage you to meet – these are people who are nothing like you.

You need to know people, who are not like you, don’t have the same interests, from different states, industries and cultures, different religions. If the only people you know are people like you, then for the most part the only things in life you will ever experience are the same things you do now.

Variety is not just the spice of life, but the spice of new relationships, new jobs, new careers, and new business opportunities. Variety is what keeps your Circle of Contacts expanding with the greatest possible value.

Networking is the act of finding, developing and nurturing relationships that can mutually move people forward thru life. Imagine helping someone you don’t know with something you never thought you could do and the benefits you get in return.

Listen to the Billy Currington song “People are crazy” where he tells a story of sitting at a bar, talking and laughing with a guy who, when he dies – leaves all his money to him. It’s a song, but it happens.

A long time friend of mine spent 10 years caring for a very ill older lady in her home town and before the lady passed away, she willed her house to my friend, who desperately needed a new home.

In these two simple examples – it was all about selfishly helping others and in both cases, they helped strangers who were different than them.

Mutually moving people forward thru life.

In the book – The Tipping point, Malcolm Gladwell refers to a study that said:

56% of a survey group found their current job thru a personal contact

Now here is the really interesting number – of the 56% only 17% of these actually “touched” these contacts on a regular basis. They got their jobs thru their Weak Ties.

Never discount your distant friends, former coworkers or distant business contacts.

Here is an example – My March of Dimes work

1) I send an email out every year looking for Chili Judges for an event I am a part of. Every year 100 people help me with this and most of them are my weak ties
2) I send another email out every year asking for donations to my yearly charity. 50 people send me money every year and again, most of them are my weak ties and they are not the Chili Judges.

Because I truly believe that we “mutually move people forward thru life” – if any of these folks ask me to help them in any way – I never disappoint them. I do the best I can to help them out either directly or indirectly, and I do it immediately.

Here is an important point about how to treat your Circle of Contacts, again the people who should be a part of mutually moving you forward thru life.

Never jeopardize your credibility

Be fair, polite and care for your contacts as you hope they will do for you.

And ask them if they need anything and be ready to help them immediately and completely.

And – Never be the one who burns the bridge.

Here is an example of why you never burn a bridge:

Interviewed a guy who disappeared on me.

I have a good relationship with this guy now and have had numerous opportunities to work with him and others that he has introduced me to since then.

Now let me try to bring this home for everyone.

When your business life get’s interrupted and you start looking for new careers, new jobs or business opportunities, good Networking can help you directly & it can work now.

What can you do now?

Use CEN to help you network

Use the web tools – LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook and Networking groups.

Get out, meet people, call your circle of contacts and have coffee, lunch, sweet tea or an after 5 drink with them. Invite them to CEN, your home, church or civic group.

Ask your circle of contacts to personally introduce you to new contacts that they feel can mutually move forward thru life by knowing you. You have to ASK!

Share your needs and desires with your Circle of Contacts, especially your weak ties.

And, most importantly, ask them what you can do to help them.

It’s not easy and it takes a leap of faith in your self.

6 years ago I would never have been able to stand in front of you telling you to do this. But I made the decision back then that I had to find a new job and the only way I could do it was to Network. This started me on the path of building a great Circle of Contacts and as a result, my sales career has been far more rewarding than I could have ever expected.

Networking is the “Act of finding, developing and nurturing relationships that can mutually move people forward thru life.”

Take your networking to Whole Nother Level – and I can almost promise it will help move you forward thru life sooner than you can imagine right now.

Speech presented by Teddy Burriss / TBurriss@roadrunner.com

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