Your network determines your net worth.
Look around you now.
Who are the people you are hanging out with? Who are the people you associate yourself with? Who are the people you spend the most time with?
Coming from the same brotherhood of friends since secondary school, junior college, and army. I never saw the importance of making new friends.
What’s the point?
“I don’t need so many friends. I just need friends that matter!” That’s what I told myself last time.
But as time passes, my path, my friends’s paths, all diverged. And that’s pretty normal, considering everyone has different goals and aspirations.
Some went on to work in government service, some became engineers, some worked in the finance industry, shipping, oil and gas…
Some started families early, some choose to remain single, some are still dating…
And as time goes by, the differences between what we want out of life start to differ.
Using myself as an example, I suddenly realised that my goals, aspirations and interests DID NOT MATCH anyone within my network!
I love investing – but nobody else in my network does.
I love entrepreneurship – but nobody else in my network does.
I love doing business, hustling, selling – but nobody else in my network seems to understand my OBSESSION with these things.
I had no one to discuss these topics with. I had no one who could say, “Yeah man I totally get what you mean.”
I had no one to learn from.
But everything started changing one day when I decided to reach out to like-minded individuals.
Thanks to Facebook and LinkedIn, I can connect with anybody, anywhere!
Like a creepy stalker, I added people on Facebook and talked to them.
Surprisingly, some of them responded and I managed to connect and establish a network around my some of my core interests.
For example, in the past, I had no one to discuss investing with.
Nobody could question my investment thesis or decisions.
Even worse, there’s nobody I could learn from. But that all changed after I found a network of investors whom I could learn from.
We would meet and discuss investment ideas, challenged each other assumptions, learnt from each other, and support each other.
My learning-curve just shot off…
Then I started realising a correlation.
As my network grew around my core interests, I get exposed to more new things and developments.
I started getting more ideas, and more opportunities.
People around me offered fresh insights and fresh perspectives that I would never come to myself.
Soon, I started to realise that my wealth and earning power was increasing.
I tried to trace back my steps.
How did it all happen? Did I hit jackpot somewhere?
I realised that it all started with a connection, which led to another connection, which led to a whole bunch of other connections.
And somehow along the way, the lessons learnt from each unique individual, and the partnerships that formed… all indirectly contributed to wealth-building opportunities!
For 2016, I have made it a goal to continue building my network around my core interests.
And if you are interested in establishing more relationships with other individuals, please read on.
I will share some tips and best practices to help you NETWORK your way to a higher NET WORTH.
1. Identify Your Networking Purpose
Networking and making friends are slightly different. Making friends could just happen in a casual gathering, with individuals with no agenda. It could just happen randomly.
When you network however, your actions are deliberate and you have a clear purpose in mine. You should go into relationship-building with a mission to help an individual or individuals, and hope that your actions would generate greater value for all parties. The mindset you must constantly have throughout the entire networking process is –
How can I be of value to others? (<<< super important point!)
So, now that you know that you cannot just network randomly, ask yourself these questions:
- What are my core interests? ( Gardening, parenting, soccer, wrestling, boxing…)
- What are my work interests? ( Sales, marketing, shipping, oil & gas, finance)
- What are my goals? ( Learn more about gardening. Find more opportunities in my job industry. Learn a new skill.)
Once you are able to figure out your purpose, you can go and start networking.
Common Mistake – Do not just network with famous people for no other reason just because they are famous. It benefits neither party! Remember you are not in this to build your ego!
Pictured above – a creepy social media networker
2. Where to Reach Out to People
We are living in wonderful times. The internet, social media… they are great places to network and meet new people.
For social media, connect to people using Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. Simply follow, comment on posts or add individuals as friends. Or, if you find adding people too stalker-ish, join groups! Facebook and LinkedIn have very resources-rich groups with full of helpful individuals inside.
3. How to make friends
Ok great, so you’ve identified where to reach out to people… Now what?
Adding Friends on Social Media – When adding individuals on social media, make sure you introduce yourself and state your purpose for adding that individual.
“Hi, I am John. I have seen some of your posts and I think we share some common interests. Do you mind if we connect? Would like to see more of your posts.” or “Hi I am John, I am a financial blogger as well. I love reading your stuff and would like to connect with other like-minded individuals in the industry. Don’t mind if we connect?”
Common Mistake – Many people just add strangers on social media without any prior introduction or explanation for adding them. Others would add someone and just say “Hi” and nothing else. That’s creepy. Don’t be one those people.
Treat making friends on social media just like how you would make friends in real life.
Joining Groups / Making friends in groups – Joining Facebook or LinkedIn groups are probably one of the best ways to network with like-minded individuals. Join in and contribute constructively to conversations. Or if you wish to, start your own conversations and discussions in the group. Make sure it is relevant to the topic. Share useful articles and contribute to the group. Remember, you must always provide value and contribute from time to time!
Common Mistake – Posting irrelevant topics in the group. Getting into heated debates with other group members. All these are big-no-nos in group etiquette.
Making Friends Face-to-Face – Smile. Shake hands. Exchange name cards. <<< I won’t go into the basic acts of courtesy here. You should know all these by now unless your EQ is severely-handicapped.
Ask the individual about their background, interests, passions, jobs, etc. Let them talk about themselves while you just listen. After the networking session, do follow up with a sincere personal message like “Hi it was great meeting you! Hope we can have a chance to work together in the future!”
Common Mistake – Talking only about yourself, yourself, yourself, yourself. Please don’t bore people with everything about yourself. It’s not about how they can help YOU, it’s about how you can help THEM!
4. Am I in the right group?
Nothing’s worst than going to a networking event and realising that the individuals there are not who you want to meet. If you feel the conversation is going no-where and that your values don’t match, excuse yourself politely and go find someone else to talk to.
An easy gauge to tell whether you are in the right group is to ask yourself this question – Am I the dumbest person in this group?
If the answer is “Yes” – you are probably in the right group. You want to learn as much as possible from all the others in the group.
If the answer is “No” – you are probably in the wrong group. Get out of there!
However, answering the above question requires one to have a degree of self-awareness. You need to really know your strengths and weaknesses well. A delusional person would probably think that he or she is the smartest one in every group!
5. Maintaining Relationships
Adding a friend, exchanging name cards, doesn’t mean that you have networked successfully. Real relationships need time to foster!
Trust me, the last thing you’d want to do is to jump into a working relationship with someone you barely know. That’s a recipe for disaster.
Follow up, follow up, follow up. Talk to people online. Talk to them in a group chat. Meet up for lunch or dinner. Get to know each other better.
Maintaining relationships are like growing plants. You must water them consistently if not they will just wither off and die. I mean seriously, how many primary school friends do you still keep in contact with?
If the relationship is important to you, take some time of to nurture it.
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