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It may sound dirty, exhausting and transactional, but it doesn’t have to. If you are a leader who wants to grow into your full potential you need a network. I’m not forcing you to join a BNI group, schmooze at parties or sell your soul to get a future client. I’m talking about finding your people who stretch you and take you to the next level.

I once set out to climb a world-class peak in New Zealand with an incredible team. Four of us hailed from three different countries. We all had different strengths and weaknesses but the same desire to get to the top of this gnarly mountain. After training, sorting our gear, choosing a route and waiting on a nine-day weather window we set out. We faced avalanches popping above us, hidden crevasses below us and morbid fears inside us. I will never forget the pure joy of locking arms on the summit. I’m confident none of us would have attempted this alone.

Finding your network or tribe turns individuals into teams who are ready to charge a mountain. We can smell the stench of bad networking and the aroma of good networking. When done with care and integrity networking is the single greatest tool to living the story you were designed to live. Truett Cathy, founder of ChickFila commonly said, “Keep helping others get what they want and eventually you’ll get what you want.” It’s called reciprocity, and it’s baked into every relationship.

Here are my five core principles of networking…

Be humble. You’ll never seek to find your tribe if you believe you can do it all yourself. True networking requires humility to know you need others and the empathy to help others succeed.

Be patient. Networking is an investment, and every investment is based on delay gratification. So play the long game.

Be ready. Breakthrough could be one intro away. Figure out your process for meeting and introducing others, respond quickly.

Be gritty. Networking is a learned skill. Although some feel greater relational fears, no one is born a good networker. Work hard to develop this fear.

Be generous. Resist the temptation to just seek what you want. Seek to connect others, and eventually, you will be connected. As soon as there is trust help others make the right connection.

Remember, your greatest tool for impact isn’t a tool at all; it’s a web of relationships. Networking connects the right humans who can unlock the stories we were designed to live. Two cups of coffee can, indeed, change the world.

 

Watch Alan’s full talk here