Rely on Your Support Networkstring(28) "Rely on Your Support Network"

We all face challenging situations at times, and whether someone is a master networker or they are new to business networking, occasionally we need to rely on the help and encouragement of others.

I believe in learning to rely on the people who respect, admire, and love you. They have the purest motives for helping you because they are genuinely interested in your well-being. They accept you as you are and will usually do whatever they can to help you achieve any goal. Even though they may not have all the knowledge or information you need, or the ability to bring you new customers, if you direct their willing efforts they can give you emotional, spiritual, physical, or financial support.

The gift of time can be an extremely valuable resource. The members of your network’s support component can help you at crucial moments in your business. They can perform essential tasks, lend you money, encourage you, work for you, help you deal with an emergency, serve as a sounding board for your ideas, even fill in for you for a couple of hours if needed.

To make the most of this resource, you need to determine who they are. 

The CATEGORIES of Your Support Network

The people most likely to give freely of their support fall into several different categories.

    People who are or have been your mentors genuinely believe in you, care about you and your success, and can be counted on for honest feedback and encouragement.
    These people are typically excited to hear from you and will remind you of how much they appreciate your support. They also open doors to business opportunities by spreading positive messages about you.
    People remember those who have done something helpful for them. Think about people to whom you have donated money, time, or other gifts. Most will go out of their way to support you. This can include people in your referral networking group, too.
    The friendships you’ve made throughout your schooling and career often become friends for life. You know, like, and respect each other. You may be reluctant to call upon a friend for help because you don’t want to admit you need it. Don’t let your ego get in the way; utilize these sources. A true friend will be eager to help and will not think any less of you.
    We often take our family and personal friends for granted, and yet they are, perhaps, our most reliable source of support. Don’t ignore them. However, we do need to keep in mind that some may be more reliable than others.
    People you have worked with outside of business, such as members of community service organizations, apartment or homeowner associations, local youth programs– they may be willing to support you in activities outside of the group’s normal scope. Join, participate, generously donate your time, and let others help you in your endeavors.
    These people are familiar with your work habits, ethics, values, abilities, interests, and character. They also know what it takes to get you to perform at your highest level. Often, like surrogate parents, they feel responsible for your success. It is okay to take advantage of this parental instinct.
    If you belong to a religious organization, there is a bond with others through a shared faith. It would be a mistake not to seek the backing of those leaders and other members. If on occasion you need them, don’t hesitate to use the support services and groups that are available.

The MEMBERS of Your Support Network

Now, go through your contacts to determine all the people you know who fit into each category. List as many names as you can. It’s okay if someone is listed more than once. The more names, the better. If one person is unable to provide the kind of support you need at a particular moment, you’ll have others to fall back on.

Keep in touch with them. Learn about the talents, knowledge, and contacts these friends and supporters have to offer. You may find that a simple call to say hello can turn into an opportunity for you to help them, too.


I think anyone who is building their business should consider these eight categories of support network members when you have some challenges, need feedback or help in some way. Remember, sources of help and encouragement are closer than you think.

Is there anyone else you would add to this list? I’d love to hear about your experiences with your support network in the comments.

What Richard Branson Can Teach You about Networkingstring(51) "What Richard Branson Can Teach You about Networking"

I recently had a phone conversation with someone who was asking me about the importance of eye contact when networking.  I answered his question with an interesting story about Richard Branson and I’d like to share that story with you here because I think it demonstrates a point that’s definitely worth remembering.

One of the many intriguing things about Richard Branson is that he has this laser-focus eye contact.  When he is talking to you, he’s not looking to his left, looking to his right, or anywhere else other than directly at you–he gives you his full attention.

I remember talking with Richard, one time in particular, about kids and raising kids.  I was telling him about my son, Trey, who was fifteen at the time and very sharp but not as committed to school as he could be.

Six months later, I saw Richard at a party and introduced him to my son.  Branson remembered who Trey was from our previous conversation, and I have this photograph of him, where he has this laser eye contact with my son (see picture at right), and he kept that laser eye contact with Trey for three or four minutes straight while he was talking to him. All these people were around, vying for Branson’s attention, but he was completely focused on my son during their conversation. Branson wasn’t intense in terms of his speaking—he was actually very relaxed—but he was impressively intense in his focus. The only person in that room, during that three or four-minute time span, was my son. Here’s a guy who never went to college, and he was telling my son. “Go to college. I spoke to your dad! You can do better. I have faith in you!”

Now, keep in mind, Trey doesn’t get impressed by anybody (or at least, like a typical teenager, he certainly doesn’t make a habit of showing that he’s impressed–if you have teenagers, I’m sure you’re more than used to being responded to with a shrug, a bored expression, and the words “it was okay,” or “yeah, (so and so) was cool, I guess . . .”   ;-)) .  Actually, I don’t think my son even understood who Branson was at the time of their conversation but I asked him afterward, “What did you think of that conversation?”  His very uncharacteristic response was, “That was amazing!”  I’m more than confident that what really did it for Trey, what really impressed him, was how, for those few minutes, he had Branson’s undivided attention.

I’ve had a chance to see Branson several times now, and he’s just a master at giving people his undivided attention. After his conversation with Trey, when he moved to the next person, the next conversation, he gave that person his undivided attention.

The thing is, giving people your undivided attention is one of the most important things you can do in order to become a master networker, and making a concentrated effort to maintain eye contact when engaging a conversation is imperative in order to demonstrate to somebody that they are receiving your undivided attention.

So, the next time you’re networking with someone and distractions surrounding you are tempting your eyes to stray from the person you’re speaking with, think of Richard Branson and remember to keep a laser focus on the person and conversation at hand–it’s one of the things that will make you a true master.

Do you have an interesting experience about networking and eye contact?  If so, share it here.