How to build powerful social networks

I was having brunch with a new acquaintance I had just met, and after it was over, I knew this encounter is very likely to develop into a fulfilling friendship. Despite having over 700+ friends on Facebook, I can say that in reality I have only a handful of friends that I’m truly close with. What my close social network lacks in numbers, it more than makes up for in reliability, and comprises of people I can truly rely on for almost anything.

I believe that we can make as many ‘friends’ as we want, but we have to be careful about the people whom we devote large chunks of our time. The late business philosopher, Jim Rohn, used to say “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”. In this article I’ll walk through 3 simple steps of how you can build a powerful social network and how you can start associating with people who share your common core values.

The most important thing to realize is that as humans, we are social animals. We are happy when we feel connected to others – accepted and respected by our peers.

“Trust and respect are the most important factors in any friendship”

Define your core values

Start by defining your core values. Personally, I want to surround myself with people who are:

  1. Driven – always working towards something
  2. Evolving – focused on self-improvement, constantly growing and working towards reaching the unattainable goal of becoming the best version of themselves
  3. Empathetic – able to understand and relate to different points of views, regardless of whether they agree with them or not

These are the characteristics I value the most in any person. I have my reasons as to why these traits are important and if you decide on characteristics you value, it will be beneficial to have your reasons as to why your values are important to you. I chose values that resonate deeply with me, and avoided discriminatory factors that might narrow my potential options. By doing so, I noticed that I was soon surrounding myself with the type of people who embodied the values I chose.

Example:

I love talking to driven people because I find their stories fascinating and inspiring. I want to be a driven person myself, and listening to others motivates me to do better. I’ve also found these core values allow us to form strong connections and support each other to keep going.

 

Starting Point:

  • Choose 3 core values that resonate deeply with you and define why they’re important to you
  • When you meet someone new or someone you know, if they match your criteria, invest some time into building the relationship
  • Occasionally spend time with people who don’t match your criteria to validate the criteria you selected are ones you truly care about

Help them and they will help you

It took 25 years of my life to realize the power of helping others. I’ve always been comfortable taking things and receiving but never truly appreciated the gift of giving. When all you do is take and never reciprocate, it becomes a negative characteristic. Everyone has dreams and aspirations and the most effective way to maintain powerful relationships is to consistently help others get what they want. By giving, and helping others, your value as a person will increase in the eyes of your network. It is natural for people to help those whom have helped them. “The Go-Giver” is a great book that explains the gift of giving in the form of a short story.

“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”

-John F. Kennedy-

Starting Point:

  • Start asking people what they want, what they dream and desire
  • See if there’s something small you could do to help them realize their dreams and do it

Invest and maintain relationships

Invest time and effort into maintaining lasting relationships with people. You don’t have to meet every week, but a meeting up every few weeks or months (if you have a large network) is fine as long as you’re giving them your full attention.

Starting Point:

  • Invest your time and efforts in people with whom you want to maintain relationships with
  • Plan a minimum  of 1 meeting a week

Building a powerful network doesn’t happen overnight and takes a considerable amount of time and effort. Nothing worth having comes quick especially when it comes to people. Take your time and build a network consisting of people you are happy to help, and vice-versa.

How do you build and maintain powerful networks?

Let me know in the comments section below.

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