Networking Bottom Line Up Front: Network up. This means that if, on a scale of 1-10 you see yourself as a 5, you should be going out of your way to bring value to other men you see as 8s, 9s, and 10s on your scale. If you are doing this, you will be apprehensive when you reach out to them. That’s good. If you let that apprehension keep you from acting, that’s bad.

What’s a 200-lb Cellphone?

Our cellphones are powerful tools. They are a little bit like our brains, in the sense that we use only a small percentage of their potential. A cellphone increases in weight when we have an important call to make. In sales we used to say that if we were calling an important lead or client to advance a relationship, build to a close or close a sale, we may be so nervous we couldn’t pick up the phone. That phone was so heavy—200 pounds—we could not pick it up. That’s a 200-lb cellphone. We attached so much significance to the outcome of that call, we couldn’t take action.

What could possibly go wrong?

When you’re reaching out to someone to build a relationship because you want something you may be a little leery of calling them. It could be guilt. It could be you want it—whatever it is– so badly you’re afraid you’ll make a mistake. Both of these and all the other reasons we hesitate are normal. If you’re reaching out, you’re taking action, and if you’re taking action, things could go quite unexpectedly. Think of all the things that can go wrong in a conversation: They won’t like you. You’ll alienate them. They’ll think you’re using them. Who are you, anyway, to reach out and call them? They’ll say no. They’ll think you’re clumsy, stupid, forgetful, unprofessional, poorly trained.

The problem with all of these reasons not to call is that they become excuses and self-fulfilling. These sorts of imaginary fears can be called many things, but at AM we call them Negative Fantasies. We could go through all of these Negative Fantasies and address each, one at a time, but that’s for a later blog post. For now, let’s just say they all have one thing in common: They keep you from taking action.

What’s the most important question?

For the purposes of this discussion the most important question is this: “Do you believe in what you’re doing?” If you believe you bring value, if you believe you have something that can benefit the man on the other end of that phone, you have no reason not to proceed. Have the very first conversation with the man in the mirror. Once you are clear in your own mind that you bring value and are proceeding from solid ground, take no more counsel of your fear. Go on offense.

OK. Now. How to lighten that phone? Pick it up and dial.

Negative Fantasies are ultimately selfish because they take the emphasis off the other person. If your Negative Fantasy is along the line of, “I’m no good,” you’re focusing on yourself. Ask yourself if your motivation is to bring value to that person. If that’s your motivation, proceed with a light heart. If your Negative Fantasy is along the line of, “I’m not well prepared,” then prepare.

Some useful phrases to open with.

You have to be yourself, so modify these so they are your own.

“I’m very nervous calling you.”

One of the most powerful things you can say. I don’t recommend it be the very first thing you say, but you could say it this way, “Hey Bill, good morning. What’s going on?” Bill tells you. Once he speaks and you are easing into the conversation, say, “Bill, I was very nervous about calling you.” That is one of the most powerful things you can say to anyone for many reasons, but the most important one is that it is true. The best way to make someone trustworthy is to trust them and if you proceed to call even when you’re nervous and you admit it, you’re saying you trust them. What is Bill going to say? Of course he is going to say, “Why are you nervous about talking to me?”

“I admire what you have done, I’m working on a project, and I’d like to discuss it with you.”

It is a myth that successful men are not open to helping others. This open, confident compliment and straightforward assertion of what you are looking for builds trust with a strong, confident man. Make it count.

“Are you the kindest, most professional person in your office?”

A great way to have fun and get a connection quickly, especially with a bureaucrat or someone in a large, impersonal organization who may hate his job, or hers. If they say yes, you’re in. You say, “Good, because I’m one of those guys who needs a lot of help.” If they say no, say, “You’re the first person I have ever asked that question who said no,” and you’ll both laugh.

Call to Action: Get out of your comfort zone so you have a 200-pound phone. The fact that you are nervous calling someone is a good indicator you are doing something courageous and you must conquer your fear. Call up an old friend, call up a woman you’d like to go out with, or apply this to any difficult situation you dread confronting. Take action.  You’ll feel better.