How to Network with Dream Connections - Rule #3

The Scout: Keep Your Ear to the Ground

You know what's much easier than looking out for your own interests?

That's right. Looking out for someone else's interests instead.

It's the most counterintuitive thing in the world. The best way to look out

for "Number One" is to trust that God will provide someone to look out for

you, while you look out for one of His other children.

 

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 How, you ask? It's funny how much is right underneath our noses when

we're willing to take a look. It ought to be obvious that people are itching

to tell the world what they need. They're restrained by social etiquette and 

common knowledge that you can't just blurt out, "I need XYZ."

 

A Scouting Story

Many of you know about my relationship with Aaron Walker, my mentor. What

isn't quite as obvious is how he chose me as a content writer for his team, and

the six months of work in the shadows I did to keep showing up in front of him with

a giving hand - usually holding an introduction to someone he wanted to know.

 

I won't go into excessive detail, other than to say that I never once asked Aaron for

anything in return. In fact, I was so committed to unilateral generosity that he had to

insist that I let him do something for me in return. In the six months that passed

between his first and second appearances on my podcast, I made a point of 

connecting him to other podcast hosts, personal friends and business connections.

 

Be Careful Who You Do This For

Aaron was the right person at the right time. I think it's important to add context to

this story, because otherwise it sounds like you achieve success by simply "being

kind until people ask 'why?'" That's a huge over-simplification, and ignores all the

timing, chemistry and circumstances that backed me into the corner of giving away

everything I had, because nobody wanted to spend money with me.

 

In some content I recently wrote for a client, I mention how silly it is for "gurus" and

"experts" to tell entrepreneurs, "Just imitate what successful people do, and you too

will be successful." It's absolutely true that imitating successful people's habits will

result in personal growth and preparation. But you will not imitate their success. 


Were you to precisely follow Muhammad Ali's training, diet and fitness 

regimen, you still would not face or defeat all the opponents he fought, with the

same vigor and personal character with which he fought them. There are too

many variables in other people's success for it to be transfusible.

 

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If you're going to be a scout and Keep Your Ear to the Ground, be prepared to

become selective about who you scout for. I discovered this through trial and

error, but you don't have to. You can take time before you make an investment in

someone to ask, "Should I assume this person will reciprocate, just because they

can?" (Believe me, I tried this on several people. Character matters when you're

building relationships with people, including when they're influential.)

 

Varying Degrees

The other side of the coin is that you should not avoid being generous to people

because they aren't influential, or even because they're not likely to reciprocate. It's

hard to know what's in a person's heart until they act. While I regret trying this with

some other people who didn't truly appreciate me, I don't hold grudges against them.

 

Just prepare your heart for the fact that people - including me - don't always think

or notice every time you do something. If you're still motivated by extrinsic

rewards like reciprocity or public exaltation, you'll end up disappointed. This has to

be a lifestyle you live, whether other people appreciate it or not.

 

A Gift That Keeps on Receiving

To this day, Aaron and I have never stood in the same room or shaken hands. But

at a critical juncture in my life, he's become not only a client, but a father and mentor

to me through the Iron Sharpens Iron Mastermind. He's introduced me to so many 

people, many of whom became clients or referred others who hired me to write.

 

I'm excited to report that becoming part of his team and the mastermind only

led to more of the same kind of introductions. The details aren't important - but I've

had a hand in getting him booked on numerous podcasts and shows, new clients

and we've worked on some exciting revenue-generating projects together.

 

Like several of my clients and terrific people in my network, Aaron is a gift who

keeps on receiving - because if you want to network with dream connections,

you learn to follow Rule #3: Keep Your Ear to the Ground.

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