In men’s affairs, nothing matters more in creating wealth, influence, and leverage than the friends you keep. In short, your network! As Brian Tracy once joked, “You can’t fly with eagles if you keep scratching with turkeys.” Chinua Achebe captured it succinctly in Things Fall Apart, where he popularized the African proverb, “If a child washes his hands, he can eat with the kings.” An English cliche says, “Birds of the same plumage fly together”, and another says, “Tell me your friend and I will tell you who you are.” Although the last saying is commonly associated with character issues, it can also be applied to the topic of our discussion, networking when it comes to net worth.
Dennis P. Kimbro, co-author of Think and Grow Rich: A Black Choice, once asked Don King, the boxing promoter and showman, “what are your goals?”, And he replied “to become the first billionaire. black from America. ” . When Kimbro asked, “How are you going to do that?” He replied, “I just told you, hanging out with billionaires, learning everything they know.” T. Harv Eker, author of Think Rich to Get Rich: Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, describes a simple test that he says he administers to attendees of his Million Mind Intensive seminar. He says that he asks them to write down the names of the seven best friends they spend the most time with (excluding spouses and their children ), and says that the average income of each attendee always reflects the average income of their seven best friends. Are you surprised? We ran a similar exercise in our Dig Well Before You Thirst seminar (title taken from Harvey Mackay) and the attendees stayed dumbfounded by the result and they all promised to rethink their friends and the network they maintain.
Whenever you attend a social function, be it a society wedding, a grand red carpet reception, or a presidential ball, just keep a close eye on who’s hanging out with whom. You will soon discover that after the initial greetings and the exchange of courtesies, people will drift imperceptibly towards the groups to which they belong: the poor will gather to complain about the bad economy, the middle class will slap their group members again. and brag about the next big toy they plan to acquire, while the wealthy will quietly talk in their own circle where the next big investment is likely to come from. Generally, you won’t see the super rich at these social events. They are on secret islands to plan the next mega deals.
Networking is so crucial to success in life and in business that you ignore or neglect this discipline at your own risk. If you look, the poorest people have the shallowest networks or no networks to speak of. When the poor man is in trouble, he has no friend to turn to. The opposite is true for the rich and super-rich. They all have well-oiled networks that allow them to have advance information on new government policies before they become public knowledge; they are always the first to know about new high-yield private investments and use their networks to literally save your life. When a close mentor suffered a life-threatening brain clot that caused him to suddenly pass out, it was the network he had built over the years that saved the situation. One, two, three phone calls, and he was flown to London and within hours a simple but delicate procedure was carried out that drained the fluid from his skull and he came back to life.
In her 2008 presentation at the then-ASTD (American Society for Training and Development) International Conference, titled Mastering Professional Networking: Turning Relationships into Lifelong Assets, Neusa Hirota, an American of Japanese descent, who was raised in Brazil and speaking little English, he told the amazing story of how he used the power of the networks to change jobs four times in six years and secure jobs in some of the most powerful establishments in the world, including the World Bank. It was from his presentation that I first heard about the “Six Degrees of Separation” theory. Six degrees of separation is the theory that any person on the planet can connect with any other person on the planet through a chain of acquaintances that has no more than five intermediaries. The theory was first proposed in 1929 by the Hungarian writer Frigyes Karinthy in a short story titled “Chains”. We won’t join the debate on whether this theory has been proven or remains unproven, all you need to know is that it can become incredibly successful if you use the power of networking to your advantage.
Like any other game, networking has its own rules. Do not leave your courtesy card in the hand of every person you meet because I can assure you that your card will end up in a garbage can. If you want to join a network, have something to offer, be selfless and join gracefully, preferably from below. If you do good home work, you can join the strongest battalions. The best place to start is through seminars, workshops, and conferences. Join clubs and associations like Lions, Toastmasters, Rotary, Optimists, ATD, and SHRM, to name just a few. Don’t forget your school alumni association and PTA (Parent Teacher Association). Remember, the devil you know is better than the one you don’t know. Look for people with a passion or interest similar to yours. Share your thoughts, ideas and the portfolio of what you are currently working on. In fact, take advantage of all the networking opportunities that suit your passion and temperament. Building a network is a marathon and not a hundred-meter race, so be prepared to work for years.
Like any other discipline in life, learn to understand the concept of networks. What I mean is that education is important. Be a guru in your little field. Who would like to do business with you if you have nothing to offer? Read the best books on networking. Keith Ferazzi, author of the two best-selling books on networking, Who’s Got Your Back and Never Eat Alone, has taken the discipline of networking to a whole new level. In your network, you can find people who could become your mentor or mentors. Never underestimate what the right mentor can do for you. Remember, Isaac Newton once said, “If I have seen further, it is by climbing on the shoulders of giants,” and Napoleon Bonaparte said, “God is always on the side of the strongest battalions.” Your mentor, you, and your network can build the strongest battalion and you can see on the horizon when you are serious about networking. Rich Schefren had Jay Abraham as his mentor, Bob Dylan was mentored by Woody Guthrie, Richard Branson had Freddie Laker, Jeff Bezos had David Shaw, and Warren Buffett was mentored by economist Benjamin Graham. So who is your mentor? In short, does the network really determine net worth? Yes indeed, nothing is as invincible as a powerful network. Start building yours today!