February 1999


How To Increase Your People Power - Donna Fisher

Donna Fisher

By Donna Fisher

Networking is choosing interdependence over isolation and realizing the power of cooperation over competition-- it links people and information to one another for the mutual benefit of everyone involved. One of the reasons networking has gotten a bad reputation is because many people are selling in the name of networking, but those who are truly masterful at networking do so in a very quiet, yet powerful manner. These people know the power of grace and respect. They've developed their personal power and know how to connect with people to share their power. You have that personal power within you, and your network is unlimited! The following 12 People Power principles show you how to be a source of power for yourself and others.

Action Questions

  • In what ways could I be more giving and supportive?
  • In which personal relationships could I be more giving?
  • In which professional relationships could I be more giving?
  • Who will I call and ask, "What do you need?" and "How can I help?"

1 - The Power of Giving

The "boomerang effect" of giving is the guarantee of networking. A boomerang always comes back because that is the design of the instrument. In the same way, what you give always comes back in some form because that is the design of the law of giving. However, the only way the boomerang can return is if someone first takes action and throws the boomerang. Giving is a powerful way to activate your network, because human nature inherently provides the desire to respond in kind. Get your "giving power" into action. Pass along support and information to others. Then all you have to do is watch for that boomerang and catch it on its return.

2 - The Power of Interdependence

Make a powerful and mature shift from the mental state of "I can do this on my own" to "I honor the power and results that are accomplished from working effectively with others." Expand your thinking beyond yourself-- the "I can do it on my own" mentality limits your outreach and effectiveness as a networker. Many of us need to retrain ourselves to think positively about interdependence. Think of yourself as a multi-dimensional entity of resources and contacts. Who you are consists of all of your life experiences and the people who influence who you are as a person. You are larger than what you see in your mirror. You are a culmination of connections that provide an unlimited source of knowledge and opportunities.

Make the Shift from...

Independent to   Interdependent
"They probably don't have time. . . ."   "I call on people in a way that respects their time."
"I can do this myself. . . ."   "I work efficiently and effectively with others."
"I know what needs to be done here. . . ."   "I run my ideas by others to check my thinking."
"I don't want to bother people. . . ."   "I acknowledge others by asking and including them."
"I don't know them well enough to call. . . ."   "I will expand my network by calling on people."
"They probably don't know anyone. . . ."   "I'll never know if I don't ask!"

3 - The Power of Praise

Send Notes Frequently That Say...

  • Thanks for your support.
  • Thanks for your friendship.
  • Thanks for the referral.
  • Thanks for the ideas you shared with me.
  • Thanks for the words of encouragement.
  • Thanks for the opportunity to learn more about your business.
  • Thanks for the opportunity to do business with you.
  • Thanks for taking the time to. . . .

Praise calls attention to the good, the helpful, and the positive. By praising yourself and others you bring people to a higher level of energy and awareness. Humans thrive on positive reinforcement. There are two ways to regularly acknowledge people in your network: speaking in person or over the phone, and sending notes. Make sure you are giving and receiving positive feedback in your life on a daily basis. Sprinkle the word "thanks" throughout your day. Tell people specifically how they influence your life in a positive way. Handwritten notes convey the personal touch we often yearn for in our society-- you'll brighten someone's day and maintain your own attitude of gratitude. My favorite story about sending notes is from someone who attended a musical performance and sent the performer a one-word note: "Stunning!" That person's experience and appreciation was so eloquently and beautifully conveyed with that one word!

Who Are the Five Most Well-Connected People You Know?

By consciously building relationships with people who know people, you are multiplying your reach. List five people you know who are well connected and identify what you will do to strengthen your relationship with each of them. Ask...

  • How can I be a valuable resource for this person?
  • How can this person be a valuable resource for me?
  • What will I do to strengthen this relationship?

4 - The Power of Quality Connections

Everyone has a vast and powerful network. However, for some people the connections have become weak and rusty from neglect. Clean up those communication connections so that you can network with all the people in your life in an easy, natural and consistent manner. Networking is as simple as friendship and as complex as match making. It is about people being there for one another. People are much more likely to be "people loyal" than they are to be brand loyal, and your network will naturally grow and blossom as you strengthen and nurture your relationships. Never underestimate the power of your contacts!

5 - The Power of Staying in Touch

Staying in touch with people what keeps your relationships close and connected. All of us at times get busy and even though we think of giving someone a call, oftentimes we don't follow through on the thought. Make a point to call people to stay in touch and reconnect. Focus on calling at least one person a week to wish them well or see how they're doing. Call someone you have not talked with in a long time and let them know you are thinking of them. Networking simply happens through conversation, yet someone has to be willing to reach out and initiate the conversation.

Seven Types of Calls to Cultivate Your Network

The "Reconnection" Call: A call to someone you haven't talked to in a while for the purpose of reestablishing the relationship and getting an update on what the person is doing. You can acknowledge that it's been a long time, express your interest in catching up, and even if it feels awkward at first, most relationships can pick up again fairly quickly.

The "Follow-Through" Call: A call to follow up on a project or idea; might involve giving or asking for information, scheduling an appointment or staying in touch about an opportunity.

The "New Contact or Referral" Call: A call to someone you've just met or been referred to by someone you know, for the purpose of getting to know each other and seeing if and how you can provide mutual support. Remind people how you met, or tell them who referred you.

The "Thinking of You" Call: A call that has no particular agenda other than saying hello and keeping communication lines open. Does not involve a sales pitch.

The "Asking for Support" Call: A call made to request information, ideas, contacts or support of some kind. Be clear about what you want and how you think this person can be of help.

The "How Can I Help?" Call: A call to offer support or make yourself available as a resource. When you hear about a project or challenge that someone is facing, call.

The "Developing Friendship" Call: Sometimes you meet someone and recognize an easy, natural rapport that leaves you wanting to get together again. This call is focused on creating an opportunity for a personal or professional friendship to develop.

6 - The Power of Knowing You

Ways I Can Be of Value to Others

  • Introduce people to other people I know
  • Recommend products and services that have benefited me
  • Share information that I have learned through my success and failures
  • Provide feedback regarding ideas
  • Provide encouragement
  • Share my expertise
  • Brainstorm and contribute ideas
  • Learn about other people's businesses so that I can promote and refer business to them
  • Provide a new insight or idea
  • Send other information I come across that could be of interest or value to them
You are a wealth of information, ideas, and contacts. You must believe that this is true and train yourself to think and respond as someone who has value to offer. A positive sense of self, an awareness of the value you can be to others, and a positive attitude, all contribute to your success in networking. Identify your goals in all areas of your life and utilize your resources to assist you in accomplishing those goals with more ease, fun, and efficiency.

7- The Power of Small Talk

Small talk is a style of conversation that allows people to get to know one another in a non-threatening manner. Small talk is not insignificant chit-chat.

Expand Your Comfort Zone

Are you at ease making conversation with someone you don't know, or do you avoid making eye contact? Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What steps am I willing to take to expand my comfort zone?
  • In what settings am I willing to take the initiative to approach new people?
  • Who do I know who is good at generating conversations with new people?
  • What do I notice about this person that can be helpful?

It is the exploratory stage in conversation that leads to discovering commonalities and opportunities-- and conversation is where networking happens. Learning to approach people with confidence is a professional skill. It is not about making people talk or cornering people on elevators, but about your ability to open the door to conversation with the people right around you. When you focus on putting people at ease and show an interest in learning more about others, small talk leads to connection, trust and rapport. Have you ever noticed yourself in a conversation that seems to be going nowhere? Then all of a sudden you find that you have something in common with the other person and the conversation takes off. Be interested in and curious about people. Most people are waiting on someone else to make the conversation interesting. Remember you are part of the conversation, and you have the power to direct the conversation to a topic that is of interest and value. Opportunities exist all around you-- wherever people are, networking is possible.

8 - The Power of Listening

Key Phrases to Listen For

  • "I want . . ."
  • "I need . . ."
  • "I'm looking for . . ."
  • "I'm involved in a project that . . ."
  • "My goal is to . . ."
  • "I'm having a problem with . . ."

Listening is the heart of communication, but most people listen as if listening is simply a matter of not talking. Listening is about being mentally engaged in what the other person is saying. Masterful listening means giving your full attention to someone else to create a connection that goes beyond the words that are being said. It is through listening that people connect and develop trust and rapport. It is about more than just hearing the words. Listening and responding to your clients or prospects when there is nothing in it for you will help you to strengthen your relationships with them and reap rewards in the future. Also, listen for what non-business needs you can fill. There are many opportunities to do this: recommending an auto mechanic, a florist, a dentist, a travel agent. The sale is just the beginning in building a client relationship that will lead to a lifetime of repeat business and referrals.

9 - The Power of Speaking Up

Start Your Introduction With . . .

  • "I love helping people . . ."
  • "I make sure my clients . . ."
  • "I enjoy . . ."
  • "I am committed to working with people to . . ."
  • "I am dedicated to . . ."
  • "I love working with . . . to . . ."
  • "My focus is to . . ."

Are you one of those people you grew up hearing the phrase, "Don't toot your own horn!" and responded by going to the other extreme? If so, it's time you learned to speak up! You don't have to brag or be aggressive, however, you must learn to speak with pride and confidence about who you are and what you have to offer. Always speak to the value and benefit of what you provide people. Most people introduce themselves by merely giving their name, title and the name of their company. To connect with people you must include in your introduction a phrase or tag line that helps people relate to what you can do for them.

10 - The Power of Asking

How to Be Effective with Your Requests

  • Be clear about what you want
  • Ask for what you want
  • Make your request as concise and specific as possible
  • Make your request with no demands and no strings attached
  • Ask in such a way that people feel acknowledged and included
  • Ask often

People are often hesitant to ask for help or information for fear of rejection or concern about bothering people. In reality, most people feel flattered, acknowledged and glad to help, but you have to be the one to open the door and give them permission. The power of asking is that it builds relationships, and allows people to get involved in creating opportunities. Asking for help and information is a way of including people and actually acknowledging them for the contribution or knowledge they have to share. There are so many contacts available to you from the people who are all around you.

11 - The Power of Thinking Big

Stretch Your Reach

Who are some of the people you have never contacted because you thought they were out of your reach? List their names; then ask yourself the following questions about each one:
  • Why do I want to contact this person?
  • What do I think this person can do for me?
  • What could I do for this person?
  • Which of the people I know could be the link or stepping-stone in contacting this person?

When you notice yourself thinking, "I've called everyone I know," think again. Everyone has anywhere from 250 to 3,000 contacts. If you know 250 people and each of those people knows 250 people, then at the second level of your network are over 64,000 people! Every person you know could be a resource for an influential, life-changing contact with someone. Don't ever think that something is out of your reach. Don't ever think you've contacted everyone there is to contact. You have the choice and opportunity to have your network lead you to resources beyond your imagination.

12 - The Power of Commitment

The difference between a mediocre networker, who occasionally produces results and experiences sporadic satisfaction and gratification, and a master networker is the level of commitment they have. That comes from a deep awareness of the long-term value of networking. Is networking a good idea? Absolutely. It is the most cost-effective marketing tool for growing your business and reaching an endless stream of influential contacts. But there is also documentation that people who have a strong support system tend to live longer and recover more quickly from illness. With commitment, these principles become a natural part of who you are. Good ideas are not the basis for results you produce in your life-- your daily actions and habits are. Making a commitment to yourself, your relationships, and these principles is the most powerful step you can take toward a life of richness.

Networking is like a treasure hunt. With a treasure hunt, you know there are jewels out there, you just don't know where, and the fun is in finding the jewels. With networking, there are jewels out there everywhere-- you just don't know where. So you meet this person, talk to this person, go to this meeting, call another person ... and sometimes nothing will happen until all of a sudden you'll find one of those jewels! And sometimes those jewels show up in the most unexpected places. Let your life be a treasure hunt! Let it be fun. Let it be an exploration, and I guarantee you'll have a life full of jewels!

DONNA FISHER is the author of People Power: 12 Principles to Enrich Your Business, Career & Personal Networks, and co-author of Power Networking: 55 Secrets for Personal and Professional Success. Her client list includes Mannatech, Nutrition for Life, Nikken, Biogime, Mary Kay Cosmetics, LinksDirect and Arbonne International. Further information is available at www.donnafisher.com or 800-934-9675.

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Reprinted with permission from Upline, Fisher Feature - February 1999, 888-UPLINE-1, http://www.upline.com


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