Deepak, my name is Faruq Hunter and I am the vice president of international operations and strategies for genius consulting, which basically means that I’m the guy who travels around and opens up new markets throughout the world for our company. You need to know ahead of time that I am a very metaphorical person and a storyteller at heart. I believe that stories are key to providing a proper perspective necessary for someone to completely grasp the points for which you are trying to make.
What is networking to you?
I believe the best way that I can define networking is through a story that a mentor of mine once told me who also happen to be an Indian fella, No not you Deepak :). He told me a story of a man who was walking through his neighborhood one day and fell into a 9 foot hole. The hole was too deep for him to get out of on his own but not so deep that another individual couldn’t get him out. After some time a fellow neighbor was walking by and noticed that the man was in the hole. Upon noticing this, he reached out his hand and told his friend “give me your hand and I will help you out of the hole”. To which the man replied “no I’m fine”. Of course this baffled the neighbor who was trying to help him but he decided that if he was okay with being in the hole he would walk away and leave him there. After getting about 10 or 15 steps away from the hole he began to analyze the way that he approached his friend and decided to try once more from a different angle. This time he went back to the hole reached his hand out and said “take my hand and I will pull you out of the hole”. For which the man replied “of course” and he was pulled out of the hole.
I always remember this story when I think about networking and more importantly the nature of people in general. This goes hand-in-hand with the saying “no one likes to be sold but everyone likes to buy”. It is the concept that a person does not like to feel as if you are trying to take something from them. Instead, people are very self-centered by nature and therefore are constantly focused on the things that are important to them. In the story, the outcome is the same, however the approach has been modified as one of giving instead of taking. This is what I consider to be the core of effective networking.
If you are always giving then how do you successfully acquire business through networking?
Okay, this is the question that I asked upon hearing about the concept of ‘net weaving’ and other networking concepts that involve giving to people prior to receiving. I am a religious man, however, I don’t believe that a person should invest their efforts solely based on the possibility that karma will provide a significant return. So, I also have a story that sticks with me to explain in greater detail how this works. It was first given to me by my wife and then later I heard of it expressed in a different light by a comedian. It is the story of a knowledgeable sage and a student seeking to acquire his knowledge.
The story goes, there was a man traveling to meet an extremely knowledgeable sage. This man was confident that the knowledge contained by this stage would significantly alter his life. Upon arriving at the sage’s house, the would-be student knocked on the door and heard the stage inside say “who is it”. The traveler replied “it is me”. To which the sage replied “leave my door, you are not ready to receive my knowledge”.
Now the traveler left and pondered on this experience for a good 10 years. After that time he decided to return to the sage and knock on his door once more. As before, the sage replied to the knock with a sharp “who is it”. This time the traveler responded “it is you”. To which the sage replied “well, come on in myself”.
To some this story is slightly confusing, however, the principle is very simple. In order to get anything from anyone you must focus on their needs more than your own. This is of course easier said than done. We live in a society and work for companies that require us to produce constantly. There is always an undeniable urge to simply ask for what you want. I don’t preach that you should deny this urge, however, you should learn how to position the things that you that you want in such a way that it is perceived that you are giving someone else what they want.
If your only reason for giving someone what they want is to take what you want, won’t people see through that?
Emphatically, the answer to that question is yes. The only way for someone to effectively implement these methods is to first address within themselves the necessity to only look out for themselves. Basically you have to address and redefine your nature of selfishness. People can see straight through a person that is not sincerely trying to help them. You must do what is necessary to modify your focus and clarify your intentions. If you had to network under an internally driving statement, I believe it will go something like this:
“I sincerely want to help people find the things that they need. Of those people, there are some who need what I have to offer . I must first identify those people who truly need what I have and then I must find the best way to get it to them.”
The significance of this statement is that you put a person’s needs before for what you are selling. This is the core perspective that you must have in order to make networking truly work for you. For instance, I work for a company that utilizes known IT management and development processes to manage enterprise and web-based applications. It would be simple enough for me to put that on my card and on my lips and repeat it to as many people as possible. However, this in itself is not a reason for someone to do business with me. Instead, I would rather tell people that I am in the business of ensuring that hard-working business people can focus on success without worrying about the complexities of managing their IT.