Dig A Well Before You’re Thirsty

shutterstock_143441227 Harvey Mackay wrote the book more than a decade ago. I just really like the title. For Harvey, it was all about how to get what you want from the world through networking.  And while I agree that building an active support network is one of the keys to success, it shouldn’t be done at the expense of genuine, mutually engaged relationships.

In other words, don’t think of people as merely stepping stones to get you where you need to go. If you’re not in it to develop real relationships, there are those who will smell your insincerity a mile away. Sure, we all have an agenda of some sort – goals, objectives, things we want to accomplish. But if you start to use people as the main source of fulfilling your agenda, your ultimate success (if you actually achieve it) will be built like a house of cards.

We all know Agenda Amy. She calls or emails without much of a “Hello, how are you?,” and launches into a plethora of questions or is constantly making requests or demands. Or you meet her at a party and she charms you with her tremendous interest in who you are and what you do. But you wonder why you leave feeling so exhausted. And you get an email from her the next day asking for an introduction to one of your contacts.

Agenda Amy is a user. A taker. She has no real interest in you as a person, only what you can do for her or how you can connect her to someone seemingly more powerful or influential. Amy is dying of thirst but she’s never taken the time to dig her own well.

What Amy has neglected to take into account is that relationships take time to develop, and what matters is quality, not quantity. As Harvey McKay writes, “You can’t stop the world from changing, but one thing is always within your control: the strength of your relationships with others. As the world changes, one thing will remain constant: the relationships you develop over a lifetime.” Notice he said, “over a lifetime,” not “overnight.”

Here are a few keys to digging a water-bearing well:

Take Your Time Getting to Know Someone New – We’ve all seen fast friendships fizzle out even more quickly than they began. You don’t really know someone until you’ve seen them in action – with friends, family, peers, and especially service people. You can learn a lot about someone by how they treat a waiter or sales clerk at a store.

Give Without Any Expectation For Return – Give because you are in a position to help someone who deserves it. Give because it makes you feel great and you know what you put out into the universe comes back to you tenfold. But mostly, give because it could actually change someone’s world for the better.

Underpromise and Overdeliver – No one likes a loud mouth name-dropper, except for Agenda Amy. She’s drawn to this ego-driven, big talker like a bee to honey. Protect your network as you would a golden egg. Be willing to share and connect, but only once you know someone’s intentions. Once you have an established, genuine relationship with someone, help them to dig their own well too.

You Can Have It All, You Just Can’t Do It All Yourself – No matter how smart you are, no matter how talented, you can’t do it alone. Take the time to build a great support network. Find and promote people who get it done better, faster and easier than you. It is said that the savviest business people surround themselves with people who are smarter than they are. That way, if you are off your game for a few weeks or even months, you have a team in place that’s got your back.

©Liz Dennery Sanders 2010

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