Over the last five years, my Dad has watched me attend one conference after another. New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Costa Rica, Mexico, Chicago, and Philadelphia, just to name a few. I have spent thousands of dollars on travel, event tickets, and important dinners to meet with and learn from influential industry leaders. And no matter how excited I am about what I learned, or who I met, my Dad always asks me the same question: “How is that going to translate into cash?”
Every time he says it, I could almost shake him. How does he not get it? How does he not see the value of these relationships? Even though it seems obvious to me, I know my Dad is not alone in his thinking. Historically, the path to cash has been very linear. Each person or relationship is seen like a transaction, serving a very distinct and clear purpose. Today, however, we are living in a relationship economy.
Ted Rubin, an industry leader in social marketing strategy and brand evangelism, calls this currency “Return On Relationship” (ROR). “ROR is the value that is accrued by a person or brand due to nurturing a relationship, whereas ROI is simple dollars and cents. ROR is the value (both perceived and real) that will accrue over time through loyalty, recommendations and sharing.”
Growing and building a network of relationships is essential, which is why Network Under 40’s founder, Darrah Brustein, has built a lifestyle and company out of connecting people.
I recently caught up with Darrah on this week’s podcast episode where she shares how to turn connections into cash.
Darrah says, “I can track most things that have happened in my life — both personally and professionally — back to a relationship I’ve had with someone. Once I met a man at a networking event and he asked to interview me on his podcast about my kids books. Several months later, he randomly wrote about Network Under 40 in Inc. Magazine which generated global interest that facilitated our expansion. You never know how you can help someone, as well as the power of their connections and influence.”
Darrah is on a mission to redefine the way people think about the word “networking.” In her opinion, “networking has become synonymous with selfishness, when at its root, I believe it’s about selflessness.”
To thrive in this relationship economy you have to be willing to give more value upfront than you are trying to receive. That is why the best time to cultivate relationships is when you have nothing to take–only something to offer–so that when your time comes to ask, you don’t appear self-serving. Some of the best business returns end up being the most random and you never know which connections will cash in at which time.
Want to know how to get rich from your network? Follow these 5 principles to abide by:
People are Human Beings. Look at each person beyond their perceived transactional value. See them for who they are, the interests they have, the types of things they like and speak to that. Ask them about their kids, where they want to travel, or a favorite movie they saw recently, get personal!
Be Authentic. Cultivate relationships with those with whom you naturally connect — with no self-serving agenda. Don’t be afraid to be yourself, you will find people want to help you more when they get to know the real you.
Figure Out How To Add Value. The more value you can add the higher your social currency becomes. Listen to what people need and help be the one to connect the dots for them. Every person is missing a “piece” to their puzzle, figure out the piece and when you need something you won’t be forgotten.
Keep In Touch. Always send a LinkedIn invitation with a personalized note after you’ve met someone or an email. This is a simple way to keep track of their latest job updates, birthday and other important things they might share. You can also add them on Facebook or social media so when they post something you can easily “like” it and remain a presence in their life.
Get Clear On Your Goals. When you are clear on what you need or the “pieces” you are looking for people can know how to contribute to you. Without having this clarity most people will not know how to help you. You will be surprised by how many people are willing and are just looking to you for the next step.
If you want to win a free copy of Darrah’s book “Finance Whiz Kids” subscribe to the podcast here then enter to win by following this link. Darrah has made this offer exclusively to Unconventional Life readers and listeners.