“I really want cake,” you think to yourself. “Boy, do I want a piece of cake right now.”
But what happens next? Maybe you don’t go to your kitchen and actually make a cake. Maybe you don’t look for a recipe. Maybe you don’t even drive to the grocery store and buy a store bought cake.
The Bottom Line? You Put Zero Energy into Solving your Problem: The Lack of Cake.
You don’t take action to change the situation to one where you are enjoying a gooey, chocolatey, messy delight. Instead you invest mental bandwidth complaining about the absence of cake in your life.
This happens to most of us. Because let’s face it, feeling like the situation is “out of your hands” and that fate is conspiring to keep you away from cake happiness is such a comfortable state. It validates your dissatisfaction without putting the onus of procuring cake on your sugar deprived shoulders.
However truth be told – you can easily mend matters. Just whip out the eggs and flour and make it yourself or even give home delivery a shot.
When it comes to entrepreneurship, the same sentiment applies. You want to connect with the right people, you want real momentum and drive in your network, you want people to come out of the woodworks to help you with referrals and expert advice.
Who wouldn’t want that? The only problem is, the world doesn’t work that way. If you want what seems like effortless success, you have to put the effort in first.
The First Step to Network Drive
There isn’t just a single way to achieve a goal, but if you’re interested in the formula for success, here’s a pretty universal one:
What does this mean? Basically, if you do something really helpful for people who have the ability to help you, then you’re positioning yourself for a more prosperous future.
Obviously, this idea goes a step further than that old concept of “who you know.” But let’s be honest: who cares if you know a congressman, or the editor of a major news publication, or a celebrity singer?
The real question is, do these influential people like and appreciate you? Would they gladly do you a favor if you asked for their help?
That’s where the true power lies.
Where Are You Devoting Your Energy?
Let’s go back to that cake. Remember how you wanted cake? The right way to think about this is, “Because I want cake, I’m going to figure out a way to get it.”
The wrong way is to complain to everyone you meet that you really want cake, but you still don’t have any because life’s unfair and the economy is bad and it’s hard work to bake a cake from scratch.
The victim mentality does you no favour, because not only does it serve as an excuse for your lack of effort, but it also hurts your chance to forge bonds with powerful people.
What if, instead of playing the victim role, you deliberately befriended someone who’s fantastic at baking and did her a big favor, like giving her free publicity on your blog or podcast? Wouldn’t you be able to call her up now and say,
“Hey, I know it’s short notice, but I was wondering if you could make a cake for my party this weekend?”
Chances are good, you’ll be eating some quality cake before too long, and it’s because you devoted your energy to proactively cultivating good help. The more great people you have in your life, the more successful you can be.
You get there not by complaining or fretting, but by giving your positive energy to other people. As you improve their capacity, you’ll have improved capacity in return. Entrepreneurship is a team sport, after all.
Being an Evangelist First
According to Rajesh Setty in his great talk about PGQ (the practical generosity quotient), the best people to have in your network are evangelists. He also talked about so-called “ready people,” who will be there to help you if you ask for it (like that cake-baking friend from earlier) — but what about having people in your life who truly take on your concerns as their concerns?
That’s what evangelists are, and it’s why they’re pure gold.
Here’s an example: You make an offhand comment at a cocktail party about how you’re thinking of writing a book, and the other person calls you a week later with a publisher contact who wants to hear your book idea!
The value this evangelist brings to your life is overwhelmingly positive, far beyond what most people will ever do for you.
Best of all, it’s possible to court these people and have them feel an obligation to help you. What’s the secret?
You probably know the answer, but first, just ask yourself a simple question: “Who am I an evangelist for right now?” Go through your list of contacts and really do some soul-searching about which of those people would agree that you’re an evangelist in their life.
Hopefully, there’s at least a few — but for most of us, the answer is pretty much zero. And that’s the real secret. To get evangelists in your life, you need to be an evangelist first.
Your network is your power, and you create your network by putting energy into it first.
So, don’t dwell on what you don’t have, or how hard it is to get what you want. Focus instead on being an evangelist for as many people as possible. It won’t necessarily be fast, and it won’t necessarily be easy — but it will be putting your energy to the best possible use.
Your networking and evangelizing effort is basically a bank account you’ve contributed to. After added to the bank account on a consistent basis, you just might be amazed by the wealth that there is to draw upon.