The media platform Scribd's new podcast, ScribdChat, launches today with the big guns: An interview with Tim Ferriss. The author gets into his new book Tribe of Mentors and secrets behind his popular TED Talk. The biggest insight actually is about networking which, after assembling a who's who for both the best-selling Tribe of Mentors and Tools of Titans, he has seemingly mastered:
Do not look for short-term transactions. If you're going to network and ask for something within a month, I view that as a waste of everyone's time and actually kind of dirty.
There's lots to unpack here. There are three big lessons:
1. Create trust before the ask.
Ferriss talks about volunteering at a local San Francisco organization. His intention was to network through helping and, over time, he was given the responsibility to find and bring speakers. He ended up hobnobbing with some of the biggest names at the time.
A notable icon was Jack Canfield, entrepreneur and co-author of The Chicken Soup for the Soul, one of the best-selling book series of all time. Ferriss took care of Canfield during his talk and, a couple times a year, would touch base with him.
And ten years later, Canfield would encourage Ferriss to write his first book, The Four-Hour WorkWeek. It became an instant bestseller and totally transformed his career.
Imagine, though, if Ferriss approached the already iconic Canfield about becoming a mentor. It wouldn't have happened. Instead, Ferriss made himself useful, helped Canfield shine and ultimately built up trust over the course of a decade.
2. Build before you need to.
It's obvious that you go find a lawyer after you are in a legal entanglement or an artist when you realize your company needs one. It requires much more strategy to actually have a variety of people in your life before the need arises.
It is essential that you not just spend time with people in your same field or in your same mindset. You have nothing to gain from staying safe. In fact, the more you interact with people of different disciplines, the more likely you'll find unique ways to improve your business and can be more useful to others who lack the skills you currently have.
Ferriss' entry point was volunteering, but it could also be through mentoring, advising or traveling. It also means being thoughtful enough to keep those connections active, even when it isn't immediately advantageous to you.
3. Assume you will know each other long-term.
Ten years was a long time for Ferriss build a relationship with Canfield - but only if you are looking at things short term. In reality, most of the people you interact with, from bosses to colleagues to employees, will be in your orbit in some fashion or another for a while. We just tend to think about people when they are affecting us the most, and that tends to happen in fits and starts over a long period of time.
It echoes what I shared recently about successful relationship building:
It means that the intern you worked with yesterday could be the checkbook holder next year and the random lawyer you met at a recent event may become your savor once you are launching that startup later you don't even know exists yet. Every connection is long-term. Every relationship is gold.
The key is to respect other people as if they will be in your life for a long, long time. That simple habit will not only build your network, but keep you from making hasty, potentially irreversible mistakes in your relationships.
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