This is a story about Paul, Tracy, Marcy, Merri, Amanda, Dan and Steve. It’s about friendships, helping one another and doing business.
Recently I was approached by a couple of associates at State Auto who are part of our Future Leaders group for advice. They wanted to talk to me about networking tips for an event they were planning. As we discussed the do’s and don’ts I shared a story that had come to mind recently as I connected the dots on many friends I’ve made over the years.
In the summer of 2004 Robert Cialdini, PhD., came to State Auto Insurance on several occasions to share a little about the psychology of persuasion with some of our top growing, profitable insurance agents. One of the guests that day was the late Paul Otte, PhD., past president of Franklin University and a former State Auto Mutual board member.
Dr. Otte brought Tracy Austin, a student advisor at Franklin, to one of the Cialdini talks and I struck up a friendship with Tracy. From that point forward Tracy and I started regularly getting together for lunch to talk about influence, coaching and business.
About five years later I attended a coaching seminar Tracy hosted at Franklin. Immediately upon sitting down the lady seated next to me said, “I follow you on Twitter!” That was the start of a friendship with Marcy Depew, a career strategist.
Marcy and I began having coffee on a frequent basis. During one of those coffee conversations Marcy told me about her communication coach she wanted me to meet.
At a Christmas party Marcy introduced me to Merri Bame. Merri works with people to give them confidence in speaking. Like Marcy, Merri was interesting and insightful, someone I wanted to get to know better. Lunches and coffee meetings ensued and one day Merri said she’d like me to meet someone she was working with.
Through Merri I met Amanda Thomas McMeans. Amanda was in marketing and hosted networking events. During one of our lunches Amanda asked if I would speak at one of her quarterly networking events, which I agreed to.
After speaking I attended Amanda’s next event as a guest. That’s where I heard Dan Stover speak. Dan shared many things that resonated with me so I asked if he’d like to get together for coffee. He accepted and a deep friendship ensued that included having Dan over for some holidays.
Dan works for Integrated Leadership Systems (ILS) as a leadership consultant. He introduced me to Steve Anderson, the owner of ILS, because Steve wanted someone to teach his staff about sales. Steve liked what I shared during an interview and asked me to come to his staff meetings on a bi-monthly basis beginning in January 2015 to consult with his team.
One more thing – ILS was looking for a part-time employee to help consultants get speaking engagements. Dan thought my wife Jane would be perfect for the job and had her interview with Steve. Apparently Steve thought she was perfect too because she started working for ILS in January 2015.
It took nearly 11 years before a financial opportunity arose for me from that networking string and that’s okay because networking isn’t just about transacting business. A huge part of networking is about building relationships and genuinely helping others. When you help others they naturally want to help you in return. That’s the principle of reciprocity in action. Help enough other people and you multiply your potential resources when you need help. Everybody wins!
When you get together with people because you have something in common it’s easy to build relationships. That’s the principle of liking at work. It’s a great way to expand your social circles and enjoy what you do.
My encouragement for you this week is to network – not with an expectation of business – but to help others and build relationships. Do so and trust the rule – reciprocity and liking – and good things will happen.