Secrets to success. You’ve heard many of them, but perhaps the best-kept secret is this: Make meaningful deposits in the lives of other people. When you go out of your way to help others without asking for anything in return, you open doors that can pay dividends.
It’s like making deposits at a bank; you can withdraw from the account at a later date. With five minutes of your time, you can make a million dollars. Here’s how it works.
1. Help Others.
This doesn’t require much time or effort. Be available for others and consider how you might help them. Sometimes it’s as simple as a conversation.
For example, you might be able to connect two people who can help each other. Do you know a guy who owns a chocolate factory, and another who owns a peanut butter factory? Make a phone call, make the introductions, and BOOM! You have Reese’s.
I don’t send many Christmas cards or birthday messages because they’re expected. Instead, I check in randomly via text or email. I’ll choose two letters that go together, such as R and E, then search my contacts and email whoever pops up. Sometimes, when I save a new contact in my phone, I also include the words “Follow Up” so I can search for that phrase later.
My messages are as simple as, “Hey, just checking in to see how you are.” I’ll ask if they need help with anything, and if so, schedule a call with them.
Bonus tip: I only take video calls because you can connect more deeply when you see each other. Trust me, this will transform how you do business.
If they ask what they can do for me, I explain that they owe me nothing, and I only want to help. I may never ask for anything in return.
2. Be Genuine.
Here’s the thing: This only works if you genuinely enjoy helping others. Otherwise, it becomes a burden, and people can sense that. You can’t fake sincerity. If you’re inauthentic, people will be suspicious of what you want in return.
However, when you genuinely help someone without selling anything, they become your biggest advocates, and they will sell you to others. Then those people can become paying clients.
Many business owners think they’ll only be successful if others fail, but that’s a scarcity mindset. I don’t believe in competition other than myself. I try to be better than I was yesterday and help my “competitors” often, even introducing them to my best leads. In return, I’ve gained thousands of leads myself.
3. Take Advantage of Unexpected Free Time.
I don’t set aside time to check in with people. When someone cancels a meeting at the last minute or joins late, I fill that time by investing in my network, which negates the time/opportunity loss.
If you think you don’t have time for this, it’s because you don’t see the value. We make time for what’s important to us. That said, building a strong network doesn’t happen overnight. You have to work at it for years.
4. Focus on People You Enjoy.
You’ll be surprised how much time you have when you only deal with people you like. I prioritize people I enjoy and separate myself from anyone who drains my energy. As a result, no one has taken advantage of me for being generous with my time.
Listen to your gut and be a magnet for good people. If someone seems like a snake oil salesman, don’t engage. But if they have a good heart, get close to that person.
5. Build a Diverse Network.
To meet like-minded people, join mastermind and business groups like your local Rotary Clb or Chamber of Commerce, which host regular in-person and online events. Whenever I meet someone, I find them on LinkedIn. But I don’t just add them and now we’re connected. I send a short message explaining the connection and offering to talk about their business. It’s key to add that personal touch based on your initial interaction.
Diversify your network with people from other industries. Then when you have a problem, you’ll know someone who can help. You can find everything from investors to partners, suppliers, employees, and software this way.
I strive to always be the one who says, “I know a guy”. For example, I met and stayed in contact with a man who sells fish, even though I never thought I would need an abundance of fish. But one day, I acquired an interest in a food products company. I said, “I know a guy” and called my friend the fishmonger. He introduced me to his distributors, and we moved tons of products together.
6. Reap the Benefits.
When you help others, they’ll want to help you back. Building social currency created tremendous leverage that you can call on when needed, even if it’s months or years later.
Talking to people has taught me so much and opened doors I didn’t know existed. A few years ago, one of my companies was having a shipping problem, which randomly came up in conversation with a gentleman who happens to be in the shipping industry. He recommended contacting companies that connect distributors with the Post Office to leverage their unused truck space, which significantly reduced our costs.
When you help others, you’ll meet increasingly influential people and will eventually be one call away from anyone you need. Recently I was introduced to a national director of a federal department. I traced our connection back to someone who introduced me to someone else, who introduced me to someone else, and so on. I reached that person by investing in half a dozen others along that chain.
7. Stay Positive.
If I’m having a bad day, I know many people who would go out of their way to change that. If you don’t have those people in your life, you either haven’t invested in others, or you’ve attracted the wrong “friends”.
To gut-check what you attract, look at your Facebook feed. Facebook knows who and what you engage with. Facebook’s goal is to serve more like engagements to you. Whether your feed is primarily positive or negative, it’s because you are, too.
Give others joy, and they’ll return that to you – which is what we need now more than ever.