I had breakfast this morning with a great new friend, Fritz Seyferth. Fritz has a business coaching practice where he helps companies improve their practices by helping them discover their underlying team identity and then helping to get the entire team working toward common goals. If you ever get a chance to chat with him, please do. He’s had a fascinating history, including working for Bo Schembechler, the late great coach of the University of Michigan football team, for several years.

Fritz told me one of the biggest challenges to getting his clients to succeed is to get the individuals to start seeing beyond themselves and to realize that they stand the most to gain by just helping the team succeed. He broke it down into several levels of behavior which actually map remarkably well into a successful networking mindset.

Level 1 — Feeding yourself. This person is only concerned with what they can do to bring benefit to themselves. In networking they’re the ones who don’t think networking is worth their time. They can do for themselves and don’t need anyone else to help.

Level 2 — What’s in it for me? At this level, someone is willing to be part of a team if they can see some direct benefit to themselves. In networking, this would be characterized by the transactional networker. They only want people in their network who can buy from them directly or who can refer business to them. For them, networking is all about taking.

Level 3 — Working as a team. This is the minimum level that the members of the team should reach. This is the point at which they are working for the benefit of the team. Ironically, according to Fritz, team members at level 3, looking out for the team, benefit more than those at level 2 where they are looking out for themselves. In networking, level 3 folks would be those who recognize that they need to provide benefit to those in their network without any expectation of getting something in return.

Level 4 — Working for a legacy. This highest level is for the team who is not only working for the benefit of the team, but also for some higher purpose which may not even happen in their own lifetimes. Networkers at this level are doing the exact same thing. They’ve built a powerful network and turned it to purposes which benefit everyone.

So, could you help your own connections to aspire to higher and higher levels of networking. Would you be willing to inspire them with your own example? Imagine what you could create with a network full of like-minded friends and colleagues.

Now, go out and do it.

Photo credit: extranoise