“Where do you find your success?”

Ultimately, this is what you are asking when you ask someone about the networks they are a part of.

This is the second in a series on the topics of conversation you can use during a one-to-one meeting (coffee, lunch, etc) in order to deepen and strengthen a relationship. You may want to read part one on “Interests“, first, but it’s not necessary.

About two years ago a dear friend, Eleni Kelakos, invited me to attend my first National Speakers Association meeting. She had heard me present at a Chamber of Commerce event and thought that I should consider adding professional speaking to my business repertoire. I wasn’t so sure, but decided to go on her recommendation.

I will be eternally grateful.

Because of her invitation, I attended a meeting which opened my eyes to the possibilities of what I could accomplish in front of a roomful of people. Because of her recommendation, I completely changed my approach to my business. If it hadn’t been for her invitation, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

That’s what can come from learning about another person’s networks.

Oh, and it’s not just how you benefit, but also when you ask the other person about the groups to which they belong — both formal and informal — you are taking an interest in their long-term success.

So, let’s look at what could happen.

  1. You both belong to the group. Similar to finding a shared interest, a shared group provides a common point for your connection. You can compare notes about your experiences. This is more likely to happen if one of you is new to the group or if it is fairly large. Either way, you now have a new networking partner to keep you honest for the group’s regular events.
  2. You don’t belong to a group to which they do belong. This is the opportunity to make them into an expert and a hero. Ask them about their experiences with the group. What sort of events do they have? Who are the members? What has been their return on investment of time and money? If it sounds like a group which might be beneficial to you, ask if they would be willing to invite you as a guest. Of course, be prepared to pay your own way, but acknowledge that they would be your hero by simply being that friendly face in a new crowd.
  3. You belong to a group to which they don’t belong. Here’s where you get to be the hero. If you are a member of a group which you think would benefit them to consider, ask them to be your guest. Of course, since you are inviting, you should plan on paying for their registration. If you are a member in good standing (and why wouldn’t you be?), you might consider contacting the organizer to see if they offer a comp registration for first time attendees. Many organizations do. This whole process can reap benefits on multiple fronts. By inviting them, you are telling them that you care enough that you want to see them succeed. This builds a reciprocity imbalance which makes them want to find ways to help you. You are doing a favor for those already in the group by introducing potential new members. The event organizers will also be grateful and remember your service. They usually like it when there are new people attending their gathering.
Is every new person you invite to a group going to become a life-long member? Nope. They don’t have to, though, for you to reap the benefits of showing you care about their success.

And who knows? The success you bring about might be your own.

Image by Jan Willem Geertsma