Strong Relationships Anchor Networking Groupsstring(45) "Strong Relationships Anchor Networking Groups"

This blog comes from a family vacation several years ago. We took a multi-day tour of the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia on a small ship. The first night we noticed that the anchor being used to secure our small ship in the middle of the vast Coral Sea was quite small compared with the size of the ship itself. The sight of this seemingly inadequate anchor piqued our interest.

The second night of our voyage, while we were anchored off Hope Island, some very strong winds began to kick up. In response, our captain decided to start the engines and back the ship up, allowing more of the anchor chain to be let out. We were curious, and admittedly a bit concerned, which led us to ask the captain how it was possible for such a modest anchor to hold the ship in place against the relentless wind gusts.

The captain’s explanation was profound and carried a valuable lesson. “It’s the chain that is holding the ship, not the anchor,” he informed us. Apparently, after the anchor is lowered, the captain receives signals from the first mate, who is stationed at the prow of the ship, indicating the direction in which the chain is positioned on the sea bottom. The captain can then maneuver accordingly and release the appropriate length of chain to maintain stability considering the particular conditions at that time.

That night, with the winds growing stronger, the captain realized that he needed to let out more of the chain to keep us steady, which he did.

The Anchor Represents the Process

The relevance of this maritime analogy to business networking groups became unmistakable. In networking groups, the anchor represents the system or the process through which business is conducted. However, the strength of a networking group is not solely determined by the anchor (the system/process) itself. Instead, it hinges on the quality and depth of relationships formed among its members.

Let’s apply this insight to your networking group. Think of the relationships you have established with other members as the links in the chain. How many “links” do you have in your chain? Do you have strong and solid relationships with all of the other members in the group? Or are you closely linked with solid connections to some members and less connected or detached from others for various reasons?

How do we go about adding more links – building more relationships – so we can let out more chain during times when the economic winds have strengthened against our businesses? We need to be intentional about developing stronger relationships with every member of our networking group, even those who may not seem to have the exact contacts or businesses that align perfectly with ours.

Naturally, we tend to build relationships more easily with businesses closely related to our own. But what about those members whose businesses appear unrelated or disconnected from ours, those who may seem incapable of providing referrals that match our needs?

Add More Links to Your Chain

This is where one-to-one meetings come into play. Scheduling one-to-one meetings with every member of your networking group is a proactive approach to extend and reinforce the chain of relationships. Each member is a link in the chain, and expanding these connections is critical. Investing your time in one-to-one meetings with each and every member of your group helps you develop a longer and stronger chain of relationships. Remember, each person in your networking group is one of the links that lengthens that chain.

The wisdom of extending the chain to enhance the anchor’s ability to hold steady is vital for the success of your networking group. As we embark on this journey, let’s make it our primary objective to cultivate and strengthen our relationship chain within our networking groups. Rest assured, it will serve as the anchor for your business and your group, ensuring longevity and resilience, regardless of economic fluctuations.

We can learn a profound lesson from a small anchor in the Coral Sea – the strength of your networking group lies in the quality and number of relationships you build within it. Just as the chain, not the anchor, secures the ship, your network of relationships is what will anchor your business through both fair winds and storms. So, let’s start strengthening our relationship chains today for future networking success.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this in the comment section below.

Soft Skills Make Strong Networksstring(32) "Soft Skills Make Strong Networks"

Some of you probably know that I’m not much of a “new age” guy. Yet, as an author and a businessman who started BNI®, which today has 308,000+ members in 77 countries, I believe in the immense power of the Law of Reciprocity. This concept touches upon the deep-rooted psychological urge to do something nice for someone who did something nice for you.

There certainly is value in soft skills. For people like me who understand the value of soft skills but would also like to have some evidence as to why those soft skills work, I can tell you there’s a lot out there to support the Law of Reciprocity, starting with the Nash equilibrium theory (the acronym of which is, ironically, NET).

Nash’s Equilibrium Theory

Basically, Nash’s equilibrium theory states that the best result will come when everyone in the group is doing what is best for both themselves and the group. It is a form of reciprocity, and the optimal outcome of the situation is one where no individual has an incentive to deviate from their chosen strategy after considering the other participants’ choices.

Reciprocal Altruism

Reciprocal altruism is another form of reciprocity. It involves an equitable balance between collective altruism and personal need. Collective altruism looks at the needs of the group but doesn’t give strong consideration to the needs of the individual. Reciprocal altruism attempts to consider both the needs of the group and the needs of the individual.

In early writings by Socrates and Alexis de Tocqueville about ethics and government, the concept of enlightened self-interest was all about reciprocity. Enlightened self-interest is a philosophy which states that people who act to further the interests of others, or interests of the group or groups to which they belong, ultimately serve their own self-interest.
In other words, it is possible to do well, by doing good.

Givers Gain®

In the early days of BNI, I incorporated the use of the term, Givers Gain® from the very beginning. The underlying foundation of this term is predicated on the age-old concept of “what goes around, comes around”. However, it is more complex than that.

Business networking is about relationship building. I have found that the best way to build a relationship with someone quickly is to help them first. If you can help someone — and I don’t mean talking about selling them your product or service, I mean genuinely help them by giving them an introduction, information, or anything that serves their needs, you will begin to establish a professional relationship with them.

Creating a relationship helps build trust, and trust is the cornerstone of effective networking. When you practice Givers Gain often enough, you will be on the road to building a powerful personal network predicated on trust built through helping to serve someone else.

This concept, whatever term you choose to use – Givers Gain or the Law of Reciprocity, serves as a bridge between individuals and a community of people for collaboration of all kinds. It fuels individual and professional growth, along with increased referrals and business.

Benefits of Cooperation

Research has shown that social cooperation is rewarding to our brains. Cooperation increases the frequency of dopamine release within the brain. Interestingly, dopamine decreases without social cooperation. Each of the strategies mentioned above are about cooperation and collaboration, and each can increase dopamine production.

I once received an email from Amruth, a BNI member in India, with a great metaphor for this philosophy. He said words to the effect of: imagine that you have two spoons, a small spoon and a large serving spoon. Which one are we using the most? The small spoon serves only us, but the large spoon allows us to serve others.
The more that we all use the large spoon, the more we will all have plenty for the small spoon. A business networking group using the large spoon for everyone creates amazing success for all.
In the book, The Go Giver, co-written by my friend, Bob Burg, the authors say, “Your income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them.”


Call it Nash’s equilibrium, reciprocal altruism, enlightened self-interest, or Givers Gain – by giving to, and helping others, you feel great. And oh, by the way, it comes back to you, many times over.

I believe that reciprocity is about taking off your bib and putting on your apron. This kind of networking is where individuals enter, and communities emerge.
THAT is how soft skills make strong networks.




Related Posts:

Put On An Apron.

There were a fair number networking groups around when I started BNI in 1985..


Episode 614: Soft Skills Make Strong Networks

Dr. Misner is a firm believer in the power of the Law of Reciprocity…