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Adding Value: 4 Tips for Building a Network by Helping Others Succeed

By Rob Foil

One of my favorite quotes comes from well-known author and motivational speaker Zig Zigler: “You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”

I am sure most of you have heard this sentiment before. There are hundreds of quotes, dozens of books, a few TED Talks, and innumerable articles that communicate the same basic message. But do you believe it’s true? If so, how does this manifest itself in your daily life?

In business, I believe Zigler’s quote is most applicable to networking efforts.

For attorneys, a strong network has always been crucial to a successful practice. A network’s makeup may vary between practice areas — an IP attorney’s network will most likely look very different from a personal injury attorney’s. But the principle is the same: Once you begin to focus on helping the people in your network get what they want, you will find it easier to transform those LinkedIn connections into long-term relationships that deliver value to all.

Tips for Building a Strong Network By Delivering Real Value

Like any well-worn adage, there can be a disconnect in understanding how to apply the idea in the real world. Based on what’s worked for me, here are four tips to get you started.

1. Ask

This seems self-evident, but when was the last time you asked someone about their goals and how you can help? If you don’t have this information, you will miss opportunities to add value to the relationship. Also, by simply asking this question, you have already set yourself apart from a person’s other connections.

2. Get creative

Don’t only focus on how you can directly help someone achieve their goals. For example, if I have a contact who wants to be the no. 1 widget salesperson in their company, I won’t limit my help to introducing them to people who buy widgets. I might also recommend a podcast they could find helpful. If I come across an app that could help them be more productive, I send them a link to the website. Think about the resources and experiences that can help your contacts get the results they are trying to achieve.

3. Do NOT keep it professional

Some of the best things I have done to strengthen relationships have been when I provided help outside of a person’s professional pursuits. For example, if one of my contacts is about to become a first-time parent, I might recommend a book on parenting that influenced how I raised my kids. Or, if I discover that one of my contacts is really into foreign language crime dramas, I might suggest one of my favorites.

4. Host gatherings

OK, now is not the best time to think about getting a group of people together in person. Once we are back to normal, though, hosting a diverse group of contacts for lunch, dinner or any other social event is a great way to establish yourself as a “super-connector.” Possibly the best book I ever read about growing your network by helping others is “Never Eat Alone” by Keith Ferrazzi. Ferrazzi talks about the value of regularly arranging social gatherings for a “hand-picked” group of connections to introduce them to colleagues who can make a real difference in their lives. For example, you might invite a few clients that have complementary businesses, along with an accountant, investment advisor, commercial banker, and realtor. Think strategically about the group’s makeup to maximize opportunities for everyone on the guest list.

Always Be On the Lookout

These are just a few ways you can add value to your professional network by working hard to identify ways to help others succeed. The key is to find out what you can do to help your connections reach their goals and then always be on the lookout for small opportunities to make a positive impact.

You will find that once you get started, it very quickly becomes a habit you happily include in your day-to-day routine.

Illustration ©iStockPhoto.com

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Rob Foil Legato Legal Rob Foil

Rob Foil is the founder and Senior Consultant at Legato Law Firm Management Consulting, a firm that specializes in helping attorneys build their network and attract high-value clients. Through regularly scheduled calls and meetings, Rob coaches his clients on how to become the “Go-To” attorney in their area of specialization, reach more potential clients, and develop a following as a thought leader. For more information go to www.asklegato.com and follow Rob on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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