Last week in a post I mentioned a statement in Rabbi Daniel Lapin’s book Thou Shall Prosper: Ten Commandments for Making Money The statement was “If there is one lesson to be learned in Jewish business success, it is this: Find opportunities to become friendly with many people.” He went on to talk about how Jewish business people connect to as many people as possible by building relationships with them. If people know you and like you, they are more apt to want to do business with you.
How can we build such relationships? One way that isn’t effective is attending a networking meeting and passing out as many business cards as possible. That is not networking; that is being a pest. People can tell you are not interested in them as a person but only as a potential client. There are many more effective ways of building relationships.
One is by joining a service organization in your community. In virtually every community of any size there are organizations that do much to benefit the community. As you become a part of some of these organizations you get to meet other community minded people, and as you work with them in their various projects they get to know you and, hopefully, like you. Not only are you connecting with people, you are also giving back to your community.
Another way to build important relationships is by honoring your competitors. As an auctioneer I attend a lot of auctions, and I have worked for some of the other auctioneers in our area. A couple of them have worked for me when I’ve needed assistance. I always allow other auctioneers to leave flyers of their upcoming auctions at my auctions, and they let me leave flyers for my auctions at theirs. When other auctioneers attend my auctions I begin the auction by introducing them and asking them to share any upcoming auctions they might have scheduled. I’ve had a few auctioneers refer people to me who wanted to sell at auction if they were booked solid or if they felt I could better serve the people than they could. I have made an effort to build a relationship with them and support them, and I believe these relationships have been mutually beneficial.
If you want to make friends you have to be friendly. That can be a challenge for an introvert like me. I often tell people that when I am on a stage conducting an auction or doing a workshop or preaching in a church I am lively and outgoing. But, when I come off the stage I can easily blend into the wallpaper! I am not necessarily comfortable speaking to people I don’t know, but these are exactly the kind of people I need to meet if I want to build relationships with as many people as possible. If you’re an introvert, force yourself to speak to people you don’t know.
Finally, be more interested in others than trying to be interesting to them. The story is told of a socialite who was seated between two well-known gentlemen at a formal dinner. Afterwards, she was asked her opinion of them. She responded that one of them was perhaps the most interesting person she had ever met. The other, she said, made her feel like she was the most interesting person who ever lived. Guess which one made the most impression on her. Show genuine interest in others and you will find they will want to be your friend.