We had a great #welead chat on twitter last night. Our topic: Networking – How to do it better, more generously and more effectively. (Join us via @womenleadsa on Wednesday nights at 19h30 GMT+2 where we discuss important and emerging leadership themes under the #welead hashtag)
In addition to some great insights, it was also a dialogue between the idealists and the more cynical about what networking is, why it exists and what realistic expectations might be from the relationships we forge for business,
Generosity and abundance are areas of great interest for me so this probably isn’t the last I’m going to say on the topic 🙂 But I did promise to post a book summary I wrote some time ago on a book by Tim Sanders which I think gives some great insights on the topic as the sharing of knowledge becomes increasingly important. Enjoy
Tim Sanders’ Love is the Killer App (Hodder & Stoughton)
This book is not hot off the press but worth a read if you haven’t got to it yet. The title is catchy but deceiving because although love in business is a theme, by far the most comprehensive and practical part of the book is the way the author expounds on the value of knowledge as a business tool and powerful networking advantage.
Important definitions in the book
Sanders defines love as the “selfless promotion of the growth of others”. When you help people be the best they can be, you are being loving.
A killer app is an excellent new idea that either supersedes an existing idea or establishes a new category in its field. It soon becomes so popular that it devastates the original business model.
Love business is the act of intelligently and sensibly sharing your intangibles with the people in your worklife
Sanders says that the “good guys” can win at the business game, and proposes that the way to do it is to be a “lovecat”. This means giving generously of your intangibles. Your intangibles are knowledge, your network and compassion:
- Reading is a source of potency so manage it like an asset. Become a walking encyclopaedia of answers for anyone who has questions
- Books should be your diet staple – magazines articles are between meal snacks. For the most part, magazine articles are commercial vehicles – publishers use them to position their advertising. They don’t build your knowledge stronghold. So spend 80% of your time on books and 20% on magazines and articles
- Find sources of reading referrals you can trust: editors, colleagues and reading circles which you create yourself
- Read actively and interactively. This part is hard to get over if like me, you were raised on the ‘never write in your books’ school of thought. But since reading this book my guilt is allayed as I highlight and make notes to myself throughout. Sanders recommends writing notes on the first blank white page inside the book – just a simple one-line summary that helps to reconnect with each of the book’s ideas, definitions and data points.
- Stock your library with extra copies of your favourite books. It’s hard to beat the gift of a book, especially right after a meeting
- Don’t wait until a book has hit the best-seller list to pick it up. You have to be ahead of the curve to leverage the knowledge master advantage.
Despite the apparent new-age packaging of the title, the Sanders approach to networking is certainly not about pure abundance. But I do like his candour:
- Eventually all the people to whom you are connected become maintenance-free reserves. These contacts lie in wait with the potential to repair a looming crisis
- Even though you don’t exact a fixed price for putting them in your network, they may well feel they’d like to do something for you in return. (I think he should add that often it’s good to help just because you can and it’s the decent thing to do!)
- Collect, connect and dissappear
- Collect: Make sure you have a system for organising your contacts
- Connect: You only need a small number of contacts and some thought to start connecting. But don’t procrasinate once the connection forges in your mind. Sanders says that because of the pace of technological change, on several occasions in the past when he didn’t move with speed, one no longer had the need and the other no longer had the solution
- Disappear: Get out of the connection as soon as it has fused.
- Don’t ever expect a ‘broker’s fee’ for forging the connection. Otherwise people will start factoring the cost of working with you into the equation when they see you coming. Not only will they stop acting on your suggestions, they’ll start filtering you out and your network will shrink. It’s also far more time-consuming to broker a deal than to create a relationship.
- Lovecats revel in the element of surprise and delight they can bring to the table and thrive in their ever-expanding network
Caveat: you do run the risk that some people may rub their hands together in glee like Ebenezer Scrooge after they’ve profited from the connection and leave you out in the cold. But think about it this way: your cost is zero and your loss is also zero. So even if you get scrooged four out of five times, that one time that people reward you for your generosity is nothing but upside for you.
The new killer-app says Sanders is that nice, smart people can succeed. So don’t be afraid to get emotionally involved and to be a warm human being at work. But being a lovecat is not just about being nice. There’s so point in playing by these rules if you’re not smart too. (In other words, strike a balance between being nice and being a sucker!)
Sanders says that his career only took off once he was able to get a handle on these intangibles. He has helped many people deal with some of the fears that permeate the business world (like becoming irrelevant because business is evolving all the time, being “downsized” due to profit pressures and so on), by reading, networking and reaching out to people. In this way, he believes you become relevant and business opportunities flow.