If you were to ask a random sample of accomplished business people to divulge the secret to their success, a sizable percentage would say it's the quantity and quality of their relationships. By building and maintaining strong ties with a wide network of flesh-and-blood human beings, you help opportunities come your way. That's because when people like you, they will actively think of ways to help make your life better. In other words, they will do you favors.

Recent research has demonstrated that the most effective networkers freely give their connections, energy, and advice without regard to what they might get in return. It's a strategy that benefits everyone involved. However, this unbridled approach to generosity does take a lot of time, and the less time you've been at it, the more time it will take.

Fortunately, there's a way to accelerate the process.

Own, Give, Get

Start by building an "online media property." An online media property is a piece of Internet real estate, owned by you or your organization, to which you regularly contribute informational and entertaining content. This property can be a blog, podcast, webinar series, or any other platform that lets you share your viewpoints and ideas. But instead of creating all the content yourself, find others to willingly do it for you.

Consider James Lipton, host of Inside the Actors Studio. Because of his show, many people consider him one of the world's foremost film and drama experts. Yet Lipton comes up with very little original content. Instead, he asks questions of the movie stars who come on his show and lets them talk. And the best part is that these Hollywood A-listers, whom everyone else fawns over, clamor to get a coveted spot sitting across from Lipton.

Take a frame from Lipton's reel. Make your online media property a showcase for prominent people to talk about topics that people in your world care deeply about. By making it more about the ideas of others than about your own, you will emerge as an even more well-respected authority in your field.

Your readers, listeners, or viewers will have access to wisdom they couldn't have gotten anywhere else, and guests will be thrilled that you gave them an opportunity to get in front of the right kind of audience. As a result, you won't only build new fans and customers, you'll surround yourself with grateful people who just happen to be the best at what they do. Before you know it, the favors will be pouring in.