Networking Bottom Line Up Front: Deliberate ethical social interaction is another term for networking. We all network, but we can choose how deliberate we are about it. Once we know how to be deliberate we can apply our skills or not, but social interaction just gets better and better.

1.       Know yourself. What lines do you refuse to cross?

Shakespeare wrote, “This above all, to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” If you make a study of your own life, if you journal (as we recommend you do) and live an examined life, you will get to know yourself. Not surprisingly, we recommend you apply to yourself the 5 Ws and the H we use at AM. You can learn more about the 5 Ws and the H at Remember what my friend the hunter taught me— the first step to solving any problem is to know where you are and what time it is. Since life is a journey, invest whatever time is necessary to know where you are in your own life, and what time it is. Before you can be effective in deliberate ethical social interaction, you must know yourself.  Know what you are willing to do and what you are unwilling to do.

2.       Be deliberate. What habits do you have and how do you spend your time?

Two of the most powerful forces in the world are habit and time. They are a dangerous combination when we mindlessly let our habits dictate our lives while time marches inexorably on. Break that cycle—look long and carefully at your habits as part of Step1, above. Then, once you are aware of your habits, exercise that most powerful of super powers, the power to choose. Choose how you spend your time, choose what you focus on, choose what you do about it.  Become deliberate in your networking—there is wealth all around you. Men all around you need your help and can help you in return.

3.       Embrace mistakes. The best way to learn?

Powerful, liberating words: “There’s no such thing as failure, only feedback.” How I choose to interpret the results is key. If I apply myself but don’t get the results I expect, I use those results to improve. If I keep trying and learn each time I try, I walk away a winner every time. Mistakes teach us. Mistakes are one key to success. Now, I must take full responsibility for my actions, because that’s what puts me in command of my life in the first place. Embrace mistakes. Learn from them. Do all you can not to repeat them, knowing you very likely will, until you learn not to.

4.       Constant self-improvement. How good is your best?

You have heard others say man is the only creature walking God’s green earth that puts limits on himself. How fast does a cheetah run? As fast as it can run. How tall does a tree grow? As tall as it can grow. Nothing else in creation has the luxury to choose its own limits. Only man has been granted that dignifying privilege to choose based on reason. Here’s a question to ask yourself: “Is this the best I can do?” At the end of each morning, at the end of each day, before you hit the rack at night. Maybe every minute of every day, ask, “Have I done my best?” Do this at least three times a day. Be honest with yourself, and you will start to see things in your life you want to improve. Once that habit takes hold, you’ll never want to break it. Apply this to your networking.

5.       Uncover hidden value. What is the key to investing?

Investing successfully means surrendering some of a resource for a return of more of that resource. Invest money to make money. Invest time to get time. Invest emotion and energy to get emotion and energy. The key to investing is uncovering hidden value. Hidden value in real estate, hidden value in businesses, hidden value in stocks, hidden value in people. Once you find hidden value, make a numbers based decision on how much to invest of whatever that opportunity needs. In networking, seek hidden value in the people you meet and in the relationships you build. Once you discover a person’s superpowers and show them those superpowers, it will change your life, and theirs. The best way to uncover hidden value in people is to listen. More on that superpower in a later blog.

6.       Give to receive. What are you trading your life for?

My mentor asked me, “What would you trade your life for?” I didn’t know how to answer and said so. His reply, “Whatever you’re doing now is your answer.” All life is trading resources. If we give first with no expectation of a return we quickly discover that when we do give, we receive in far greater measure. Initiative also gives us the pleasure of control of our time, energy, direction. By taking initiative you get the joy of being on the attack. Start something good. It’s addictive. Reach out. Ask questions. Listen to others. Then you know what they need, want, seek, hope for and fear. Then you can add value.

7.       Be courteous and polite. “May I offer you a card?”

The merely polite man is doing the bare minimum. We can see cold, antiseptic politeness all around us. Hold the door but be in a hurry. Offer your seat but resent it. Say please but don’t mean it. Say thank you but say it sarcastically (sarcasm, by the way, means to tear the flesh). Courtesy, though, is being courtly. Courtesy is personalized politeness. It goes the extra mile. Courtesy is going to the trouble of ensuring the gift you give (your time, effort, cheerfulness, concern, interest) is well and happily received on the other side of the table. A good example is asking before you offer your business card, “May I offer you a card?” Who would say no to that? And, once you ask permission, you will receive a card in return. Remember, for a gift to be given successfully you must have a giver, a receiver and a gift. The receiver must accept your kindness or your initiative. The way to make that likely? Be courteous. All of these distinctions revolve around courtesy. Be courtly and make everyone you meet feel important. They are.

Call to Action: Review the steps we have offered you in these three Pro Victoria blogposts. Wherever we ask you a question, write down the answer. Be deliberate. Make an effort at deliberate ethical social interaction. Network! You’ll like it.