et me say this: a business card is not a symbol of value. Anyone can print a business card. I see crazy things people do with business cards. People are asking for them just for the sake of it. However, where there is value, something more than a business card being given happens–an appointment is made. In other words, if you are a person of value, you do not need to worry about how you will make connections. The process is much smoother.
I have always said that the best form of advertising is word of mouth. In other words, when you are known to be a person of value, you do not need to hand over your business cards to people. Conversely, people talk about you in their circles. Whenever there is an opportunity for them to make connections, people normally work with those that have been recommended by trusted friends and relatives. In other words, you can either be spoken of or your can speak for yourself. The better of the two is when other people speak of you. Now they can only do that when you have built in so much value that it cannot be ignored. The rule of thumb when it comes to connections is this: Learn to be a person worthy of connections.
There are two critical things in life. There is pain, and then there are solutions. Whenever someone is in pain, they are looking for someone else to help them cure that pain. The person who is curing that pain is the one offering value. How the pain is cured will determine whether there will be more connections. This is where people go wrong mostly. Whenever there is an opportunity to have a connection, one ought to look at a lifelong connection, not just the present moment to make a buck. So the question that you need to be asking is: Am I providing value or am I looking to milk the situation?
There are two important aspects of any connections of value in your life. The first aspect is longevity. You want to have long relationships of value with people. The second aspect is what Seth Godin calls “sneezing”. To sneeze is to spread a virus. If you looked at it positively, if your connections are of value, or at least if you are offering value, it is easy for people to “sneeze” you so that your reach is far and wide. That is the epitome of being irreplaceable. You cannot be irreplaceable if you are not of value. In other words, your take of connections is not necessarily what you can get out of them in the shortest time possible. If you took a look at your life, there will be irreplaceable connections that came about as a result of genuine deep care and nothing else.
Perhaps the greatest book I ever read on the subject matter is Swim with the Sharks by Author Harvey Mackay. I have quoted him elsewhere on the blog explaining the power of coaching. In this book, Mackay shares how he genuinely cares for the people in his life, collecting as much information painstakingly as possible. He has had relationships that have spun years, some decades. His approach is not necessarily to make a quick buck out of any relationship. He looks way past the business transaction of the day, to the human life, and day to day activities. The following are some of the things that you can do to be a person of value.
There has to be a way that you intentionally force yourself to genuinely care for people further than a transaction. This is what makes you invaluable. This is what makes you get the best out of your connections. The question of course is, “How can I do that?” There is no specific way to do it. You just out to be creative and to genuinely be interested in people and in their lives. That’s why Harvey Mackay advises that you collect as much data about people as possible for the sole purpose of providing them with value. Do not just look at business, look at life in general.
I will never forget the day I recommended someone to my coach to build for him a website. I frankly had not checked out his work. I had also been introduced to him by someone else. It turns out that this person was very lackadaisical in their work and they wanted to be paid upfront. That day, it nearly cost me my credibility for that connection. In the end, the person ended up losing two more potentially critical connections, myself and my coach’s. Excellence is something that will cost you quite a bit, but when it is deployed, it will always generate more leads and more valuable connections.
Consistency comes in two formats. First, be known as the “go to person” for a particular thing or things. Do not change it. In other words, to make the best out of your connections, you have to be an authority or an expert of sorts. For example, some people in my circles know that I am a good consultant with books creation. I should always be that and be known for that. I should be the best in the market for it. The second aspect of consistency is with the service that you are providing. The guiding principle with this consistency is that each and everyone that experiences you will get that wowing value from you. That form of consistency is what can be vouched for by different people. If however one person says you are good and another says you are lousy, there is a break of consistency there.
Trust is the greatest currency in relationships. The moment it is lost, that connection suffers a body blow. A person of value is a person who not only can be trusted, but can also be entrusted. To be entrusted means that you can now have the connections that you desire. Trust is created when expectations are defined and delivered. So whenever you envisage a situation where the expectations will not be met as earlier agreed on, be the one to anticipate this and communicate. Keep the trust going.
If you will make the most of your connections, you will most definitely have to be a person of value. Please note that this cannot happen overnight. It will take a bit of time and patience to bring it out.