Year ago Bill Gates was asked that question, “what is one of your main formulas for success?” Without blinking an eye he said “hiring smart people as well as surrounding yourself with smart people.” His best friend is Warren Buffet, who just recently decided to leave his 40+ billion dollar empire to the Bill Gates Foundation upon his death. This friendship alone affirms his aforementioned statement. As a speaker and trainer, many people tell me that there too many people out here today giving various formulas for success in business and career. The internet has turned everybody into an expert, so it often gets confusing. My answer to them is simple and plain, I do not proclaim to have the all the answers, never have. But, one thought I have on life and career success is “If you show me your friends I will show you your future.” This nugget of wisdom was given to me by a man by the name of Jim Murphy who I met as a seventeen year old during a plane trip to college. This few minutes of mentoring by Mr. Murphy changed my life forever. It is almost impossible to build a successful business, ministry or anything else if you do not have successful advisors. Even bible in proverbs says “Plans fail due to a lack of advisors.” I find that many people who are trying to climb the ladder of purpose often have friends who are doing the same. I am in no way saying that we must pursue our friendships based upon achievement of goals. What I am saying is that you need some friends in you inner circle who have gone through the process of building a successful business or career in an area in which you aspire to achieve success.
A few ways I have personally been able to build my personal network of friends and associates are as follows:
Through volunteering my time to help various causes, I have been able to meet with overachievers in all types. A few of my early stage mentors were met via volunteerism, and as a result of these connections and their wisdom, I have been able to remain in business since 1996. My goal in volunteering was not to meet mentors but I found that it was a beneficial by-product. Zig Ziglar used to often say “In life you get everything you want when you help other people get what they want.” Volunteering your time is most beneficial to the organization you are supporting first, but a secondary benefit to you is the people you get to meet.
Time is often the enemy of networking but I have found this to be highly beneficial to make professional connections. The type of networking I am talking about is not the type where you dump a load of information on a person at a meeting or event. It is the kind where you ask questions of people and do your best to get to know their career and personal interest. I remember meeting a very successful business owner once who told me he was tired of people asking him to hand hold them through the process. I responded by saying to him the only thing I want from you is the wisdom you have learned over the years; I will do all of the work. He proceeded to give me a mentoring session of a lifetime. On another note, one of the challenges I have with all of the business social networking sites is it is often one way communication. You have millions of people communicating all of their information to us and wondering why they are not getting a response. This is not real networking. I am not saying to dump your internet based social networking if you are a fan of it, but I am saying get out and have some real human to human interactions. This type of connectedness will always be the best way to meet new friends and associates.
What are your thoughts on the power of friendships? Do you believe that good associations can impact career and life outcomes? How have your friends helped you in the pursuit of your goal?