For the past while I’ve been slowly working my way through Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh. It has been out for a while but I hadn’t heard of it, or at least didn’t recall hearing of it. I stumbled across it recently at a second hand store and the title grabbed me. Maybe something to do with my job title. I then realized it was by the CEO of Zappos.com and figured it would be a good read. Just because I’m taking my time getting through it doesn’t mean it isn’t good, I’m really enjoying it so far.
One section that stuck with me was when he was talking about building friendships and relationships. For the most part I’ve always been a pretty shy and find it hard to just approach people and start up a conversation. I’ve attended a few traditional networking type events before but always felt like they were mostly a waste of time. Probably what I made of them.
This section Tony included was from his excerpt in Ivanka Trump’s book, it talks about making real relationships.
If you are able to figure out how to be truly interested in someone you meet, with the goal of building up a friendship instead of trying to get something out of that person, the funny thing is that almost always, something happens later down the line that ends up benefiting either your business or yourself personally.
So my advice is to stop trying to “network” in the traditional business sense, and instead just try to build up the number and depth of your friendships, where the friendship itself is its own reward. The more diverse your set of friendships are, the more likely you’ll derive both personal and business benefits from your friendships later down the road. You won’t know exactly what those benefits will be, but if your friendships are genuine, those benefits will magically appear 2-3 years later down the road.
I’ve never quantified this before but what he says holds very true in my own life. It would be difficult for me to look back and see just how much having good relationships with people have helped me along my path which has led me to where I am. Whether it was a friend who ended up helping me get a job or even just having a good relationship with a previous manager ended up resulting in a lot of great contract based work much later on.
It almost sounds like what some people would call karma, if that is something you believe in, but I think it is just in human nature. In general I think people want to be nice to others so having good relationships with people is naturally going to bring opportunities.