Success and The Network Effect

Oct 04

Like most people, you’ve gotten adept at figuring out who the poisonous and exhausting people are in your life. And if you’re successful, you’ve become adept at quickly jettisoning them before they wreak the inevitable havoc that always comes. Figuring out whom to jettison is easy—what’s tough is acquiring a keen eye for spotting those people who will unquestionably give you a strategic leg up on the ladder of success. What’s so important about having a keen eye and being able to spot the people who can help you ascend the ladder of success more quickly?

The unvarnished truth is you can’t succeed alone, despite what you read and see about highly accomplished and brilliant people.

A lone person struggling against all odds and surmounting all obstacles to become an overnight success might make a great movie script, yet in the real world, it rarely, if ever, happens that way. The most talented people don’t take anything for granted or leave anything to chance when it comes to building a strategic network of connections, advisors, mentors, and influencers who will play an integral role in opening doors and paving the way for them as they ascend the ladder of success. The work of building a highly dedicated and specialized network begins long before the people you want to seek out are chosen, and the relationships begin.

Here’s what it takes to become adept a spotting the people who will most assuredly quicken your rise on the ladder of success:

Focus On What You Need, Not What You Have

If you want the most influential advisors, mentors, and people in your corner, you need to focus on what you need, not what you have. This starts when you create your own personal balance sheet. Just like the balance sheet of any company tells the world about the general health of the company, so will your balance sheet reflect your general health and well-being as well as your strengths and gaps. It starts with you being able to objectively assess your assets and liabilities, your emotional intelligence, and your mindset and worldview. Here are a few quick ideas to get you started:

  • Create a personal avatar that includes how you like to learn new things, communicate with others, and overcome challenges. This will shine a spotlight on and enable you to prioritize your assets and identify your liabilities and what you want to accomplish.
  • Trace the milestones and markers: those moments in your life that include your victories, failures, and times when you had to take a step back and start again. When you have the list, ask yourself:* What would I tell myself today about something I should have done but didn’t do? What would I have needed then to be able to do this?* What do I believe about myself? Which of these are true, and which are false? Which might have been true but are no longer true and why?

Getting comfortable with and knowing precisely what you need lays the groundwork for building the rapport and trust that will drive your successful connection with the influencers who can help you succeed.

Get Specific

Now that you’ve spelled out who you are, it’s time to get serious about seeking out that core group of undeniably essential people upon whom you’ll rely as you march toward success. The cadre of resources upon whose counsel and wisdom you rely demands that you connect with others in a strategic and deliberate way. But it isn’t about collecting names and counting numbers. It starts with getting specific about and then reaching out to the people who can fill in your skill gaps, shine the light on your blind spots, and help you use your strengths in ways that you’ve not thought about before. Look for people who will thrust you into your discomfort zone and support you in tackling the things you dream of for yourself. Getting specific means thinking about who you’d like to have in your posse. Begin by thinking about the traits, skills, and viewpoints you need to introduce into your life and figure out where those people are. Here are a few archetypes you might want to include in your circle:

  • The Sounding Board – Someone who listens to you and, more significantly, hears what is being said and what isn’t. Given what they hear, they willingly respond by being of service to you in the way you need their help—even if only to acknowledge what has been shared. These people are among the principal resources in your circle. They share in your biggest fears and grandest dreams. They give you unconditional support and enable you to talk through your biggest fears and move forward.
  • The Questioner – Someone who has a perspective 180 degrees from your own. They are willing to take you to the edge of your comfort zone and probably a good deal beyond it. They challenge your thinking, viewpoints, and entrenched ways of being. They help you explore new viewpoints and break through static thought patterns. It might not always be comfortable to be in their presence, yet they can help you in ways that accelerate your growth as no other person can.
  • The Elder / Mentor – Someone who has been there and done what you are trying to do. Someone who can become a strategic partner and show you all the potholes and shortcuts that will help you have a smoother and more successful journey. They also help you connect with others and make introductions that help build your influence and credibility. Their wisdom inspires and ignites your passion and desire to succeed.
  • The Up and Comer – Someone whose star is ascending. They are highly innovative and in touch with where the world is headed. They may be in your industry, or perhaps they are not, but they are the trendsetters and the ones at the head of the spear. They can help you with trends, technologies, and ideas that you’re not acquainted with or even at ease with.
  • The Peer – Someone who gets you where you are right now. They understand what you face because they are right there alongside you, going through the same things. Together you help each other see the constructive aspects of what you are experiencing. They are trusted confidants and sympathetic friends.

This certainly isn’t a complete list—you don’t need to have all the answers as to who should be on your list at the start. You can learn and add more along the way.

Don’t Tempt Fate—Give As Much As You Get

Relationships are not one-way streets—they are reciprocal. Don’t tempt fate by being known as someone who only takes from the people around them—giving as much as you get from others is a key way to build your own influence. Find opportunities to reciprocate: join forces on mutually-defined goals and share thoughts and resources freely. This level of engagement builds rapport, solidifies connections, and heightens your presence. What you do communicates volumes to those who observe your deeds and endears you to others. Giving as much as you get creates influential relationships that will help you catapult your success and leapfrog over your competition.

We know that bona fide success isn’t an overnight proposition; without a doubt, success isn’t achieved in isolation. With a keen eye, persistence, and a bit of flexibility, you’ll be able to form the type of relationships that will amplify your strengths and support you in ways that will drive your success exponentially.

How will you spot the people who can help you ascend the ladder of success more quickly? Please share your ideas with me.