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This is a continuation of the “How to Network With Busy People” series. The first post in the series can be found here.
Continuing on with our tips…
Offer genuine friendship, not neediness.
This idea is more about attitude than actions. Busy people are so accustomed to being approached by people who want to vamp their energy in some way, so their shields often go up when they meet new people. In the back of their mind, they’re thinking, “What does this person want from me?”
You’ll get much better results if you approach busy people from a place of giving, kindness, generosity, friendship, and equality – as opposed to coming from a place of neediness, wanting something from them, seeing them as a potential client or prospect or valued contact, etc.
I meet a lot of busy and sometimes famous people through my work in the personal development field. I don’t approach them from a place of wanting or needing anything from them. I prefer to keep my energy flowing outward instead of trying to suck energy from them. This approach makes people feel comfortable, so they quickly drop their shields, and that’s when the real connection and deeper conversation begins. My focus is on enjoying life and having fun, and the rest flows easily from there.
I noticed that I quickly relax and lower my shields when I’m around the same type of person. As a busy person I learned to be very guarded with my energy. On the occasions when I meet someone who doesn’t want or need anything from me and they’re just happy and having fun, it’s immensely refreshing. Those kinds of interactions really stand out. Those are the kinds of people I love to spend time with.
This isn’t about giving so you can get. If you see it that way, you’re missing the point, and ultimately you’re still trying to vamp something from the other person. You’re still holding yourself in a place of neediness and lack.
This is about giving because you’re using your power to hold yourself in a place of abundance, connectedness, and oneness. You don’t need anything from anyone. You’re simply allowing your energy to flow outward, and you’re exploring new possibilities for connection and love.
When you approach people from this place of completeness, you’ll find that most of the time their shields drop pretty quickly, and they feel very much at ease around you. Comfort allows other people to be fully present and fully themselves.
A couple weeks ago, I was in Bermuda for my first retreat with the Transformational Leadership Council. This group includes a lot of busy people who are used to getting “hit on” quite often. Members of this group include entrepreneurs, celebrities, and multi-millionaires.
I could have gone to this retreat with an attitude of neediness, thinking about all the deals to be made, the potential business partners, the money to be earned, and the coolness of associating with famous people. I could have behaved like a vampire trying to suck everyone else’s energy. I could have treated them like targets instead of human beings. Blech!
Instead I went in with the attitude that we’re all one, we’re already connected, and I’m there to share, to love, to have fun, to explore, and to create. I felt so happy and abundant throughout the week. I truly didn’t need or want anything from anyone. I didn’t need anyone to accept or validate me.
Similarly, I didn’t go around trying to do favors for people or trying to impress them, since that would also require coming from a place of lack. I simply assumed that I was already best friends with everyone there and that nothing had to be earned.
Throughout the week I shared lots of love, laughs, hugs, stories, ideas, and even some tears. I made dozens of new friends – friends I expect to stay connected with for many years to come.
Will I do business with some of those people later? Sure. But the friendship is the most important part of networking.
More than one person came up to me during the week and said something like, “Steve, I just love your energy. You seem so happy.”
The truth is that at this point in my life, I’d rather form an authentic new friendship than cultivate a strategic business alliance.
And interestingly enough, genuine friendship is perhaps what busy people are most starved for. So many people try to take their energy or seek validation from them. It’s much less common for them to be approached by people who just want to connect with them from a place of love and abundance without wanting or needing anything.
In my almost 15+ years as an entrepreneur, I’ve been approached literally tens of thousands of times by people who want something from me – advice, answers, business deals, money, referrals, etc. But how many times have I been approached by someone offering genuine friendship without secretly wanting or needing something from me? I think that has happened only a few hundred times total. In fact, this year it has become a big focus of mine to have more interactions based on friendship and less that are based on want or need.
Which types of people do I want to hang out with most often? Obviously it feels best to hang out with genuine friends who already feel whole and complete and who aren’t needy.
I should mention that my experience at TLC wasn’t uncommon at all. Almost everyone there seemed to have a similar attitude. We all dropped our shields and shared our true selves with each other. If anyone there had gone into sales-minded networker mode, I think it would have creeped everyone out. But since no one did that – at least not that I saw – the experience was very open and authentic.
Of course if you network with the goal of creating real friendship, all the other stuff you could possibly want or need will arise naturally from that. People who become good friends often look for ways to do business together. I know some people say that business and friendship don’t mix. My advice is not to do business with anyone who believes that. I’ve done many deals with friends – in fact, I very much prefer it. I’m very hesitant to do business with someone I don’t feel a good connection with. Some deals just don’t perform well for one reason or another, but as long as everyone behaves with integrity, it needn’t hurt the friendship. A lack of integrity hurts a friendship a lot more than a business deal that didn’t meet expectations.
It’s perfectly okay to meet someone with a desire to eventually do business with them, but if that’s your primary motivation – if that’s truly what’s most important to you – then the relationship will develop very differently compared to when your primary motivation is genuine friendship. Your life will feel a lot emptier and less fulfilling if you value transactions above friendship.
When I think about all the wonderful new friends I made this year, I can’t even imagine putting business ahead of those friendships. I’d rather stay friends with these people and never do business than earn millions of dollars cutting deals but not have the friendships. I don’t think I’m alone in feeling that way. Busy people often have plenty of business opportunities coming their way, and they don’t necessarily need more of the same.
Even if you don’t consider yourself a busy person, would you prefer to have lots of money and business partners but few real friends, or would you rather have lots of deep and abiding friendships but little money? I think that deep down, most people would rather have the love and connection. If you pursue money first and foremost, you’re more likely to end up with neither money nor friends. Human beings typically dislike being reduced to transactions.
What do you really want in this area of your life? What kind of network do you want to create? Do you want a network of great friends who like and respect you? Or do you want a network of transaction partners who barely even know you?
Is it possible that the reason you’ve thought about other people as dollar signs or “prospects” instead of as real human beings is that you think money and success will ultimately help you feel more worthy of connection and love? In truth the best way to enjoy connection and love is to connect with others on that basis instead of trying to use money as the middleman.
When you network on the basis of friendship, you take your work to a whole new level. Every deal you transact becomes an act of helping your friends achieve their goals, and your friends do the same for you. Your network transforms into your family of goal achievement partners.
To be continued…