Value Comes First
As I started studying business and how to climb the corporate ladder, I got an interesting piece of advice from one of my professors in a management course I was taking: “Your network will take you farther than any knowledge you’ll gain in this class!” He proceeded to tell us to go to a social function and make friends. While I had always been good at making friends and meeting new people, I had never used that skill for business purposes before, nor did I correlate the two. I gave it a try, and it worked okay, but I didn’t yet see why the professor was so excited about it.
A couple years back I decided that I was passionate about entrepreneurship and building something bigger than myself. I went through various start up ideas building multiple business plans and creating networks of potential clientele for these many companies. None of them worked out until I tried something different while networking: giving value first before I expected to receive any in return. This, I found, was the piece I’d been missing in networking—I’d been looking for others to give me value before I gave them any. When I started giving them value first, things started happening for all of us.
The biggest piece of advice that I can convey is give value to your network first and then give them even more. Once you do that people they’ll start giving you leads, advice, sometimes even business all because you gave to them first and expected nothing in return. That right there is the key to collaboration a group of people giving value to one another while achieving a vision and expecting nothing in return.
That is my company’s first philosophy is to give first and expect nothing. We’ve built a culture of leaders that firmly believe in this principle, allowing us to achieve a level of service that keeps our clients coming back—and bringing their friends with them! Our business is a reflection of the ideals and morals my partners and I try to uphold in our daily lives. The reason my partners and I have such a supportive network is because we always gave first. If I could provide our service for free I absolutely would.
Throughout my life I have gotten the chance to do some pretty amazing things. I was able to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York City, lose 50 pounds so I could run a sub-17-minute 5K race, and help coordinate the framing of a house that was donated to Habitat for Humanity. After doing all that and much more, I came to the realization that in doing these things, the odds had been highly stacked against me. The chances of doing any of them successfully, let alone all of them, seemed really slim—and yet I had.
A few weeks and a lot of thinking later, I realized it was my network that allowed me to achieve all that I had in life up until that point. For every accomplishment, there was a supportive person helping me the entire way. And none of those people would have been there had I not given them value first. If you help your network without any expectation of reciprocation they will help you out in ways you can’t even imagine. When people see a genuine vision and goal that is larger than yourself, they will join your cause in any way they can.
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