Here’s the thing with networking: If you want to get more business, you have to be willing to give business to other businesspeople. That’s why I founded my networking organization, BNI, on the central, guiding philosophy of giving benefit to others–Givers Gain®. It’s an ethical theme that is common to all religions, all cultures: Treat others the way you want to be treated. If you want to get referrals, do the best job you can of giving referrals to others.
I’d like to share with you a story that I originally heard from one of my BNI directors, Art Radtke, which will help you remember this concept. It was originally called “Sex in the Cornfields,” but I figured “Whoopee in the Cornfields” would be a more decorous title. 😉
Whoopee in the Cornfields
A farmer in Nebraska won the state fair four times in a row with his corn. Nobody had ever done that before, so the paper sent someone out to interview him.
The reporter asked, “What is your secret? Do you use special corn seed?”
The farmer said, “Absolutely. I develop my own corn seed, and that’s an important aspect of it.”
“Well, then, that’s your secret,” said the reporter. “You plant a type of corn that’s different from your neighbors.”
“No, I also give it to my neighbors,” said the farmer.
“You give it to your neighbors?” asked the incredulous reporter. “Why in the world would you give your award-winning corn to your neighbors?”
“The farmer said, “Well, you’ve got to understand how corn is pollinated. It’s pollinated from neighboring fields. And if you’ve got fields around you that don’t have this top-quality corn, your field is not going to grow top-quality corn either. But if my neighbor’s field has this really strong corn, I have awesome corn. And that’s how I’ve won at the Nebraska State Fair the last four years in a row.”
This story is a great metaphor for how networking works. Put simply, if you’re going to be an effective networker, you need to go into networking with a commitment to helping other people because that is how you’ll be helped in return.