If I could be the master of one thing, it’d be the master of providing value.
After studying successful people intensely this year through coaching programs, courses, videos, books, and more, I realize that they all have one common thread: they’re really good at providing value.
Value is a vague, broad concept. Value is subjective. Some people find value in a funny person or someone who makes a boring situation fun. Others find value in a tool that fixed their car.
When the value you offer is so high, people gravitate towards you or your product. And they’ll gladly pay for it (if you’re selling it). Or if you’re just trying to be a more popular, attractive person who attracts the people you want into your life, it’s about providing value.
You see, most people take value. They’re naturally selfish, so their behavior is all routed in how can they take. When they go up to a successful person (or anyone really), it’s about “how can I get something from you?” That’s reflected in their questions, “Can I have 10 minutes to pick your brain?” “Can I have some money?”
The issue is that people are annoyed and sick of that. You fall into the crowd and natural reactions that sift value-takers out.
“Sorry, I’m too busy running a company to mentor you. I’ll link you with my assistant and my email; talk to me there.”
Then, you never hear from them again.
But if you can find some way of providing value, you stand out.
Of course, the more value you provide the better. That takes talent, skill, and resourcefulness. Everyone has something, they just have to find it and develop those skills further.
The most wealthy value givers have found a way to mass produce that value in a way they can sell, usually through the help of a system, team, and well-oiled business and product. But value-giving doesn’t have to be about making money. If you want to make friends, be a good friend. If you want to be an attractive man, show women an emotional experience that most men cannot.
While I understand and agree that quality of friends matter more than quality. Knowing more people definitely helps for your career and dating life. Effective networking opens doors. When you have ten attractive female friends that you hang around, that social proof affects how attractive you appear when others see you. Those ten women can introduce you to twenty more women and so on.
Similarly, most jobs are obtained not through a job board but through knowing someone at the company who sends in a referral. And that’s done through win-win networking (as opposed to value-taking networking).
When I used to hear the word “networking,” I thought “sleazy.” Many people do.
It reminds me of a sleazy salesman or people who just want something from me and are pretending to befriend me.
In truth, good networking is not like that.
Let’s say you want to meet someone who’s almost unreachable. Like Bill Gates or Elon Musk. Guess what? Someone knows someone who knows him. And if you extend that long enough, you’re connected to him.
Because of the six degrees of separation, you never know what your networking may yield. Just by providing value and staying connected with people, you develop relationships that can yield results years down the line. Perhaps, someone you know becomes successful one day and he or she remembers how you treated that person. Now, your value has paid off. It’s not about keeping score. It’s about providing value with no expectations. Give a ton because you are able to. And just know that it’ll pay off one day.
It says that from the moment you’re born, you know someone who knows someone famous. And that person knows someone who knows someone more famous.
In six associations or less, you’re connected with every single person on the planet.
Honestly, it’s true.
I know people who have met billionaires. I know people who’s met someone moderately famous. And that famous person’s probably met someone really famous. And that really famous person’s probably know people.
Imagine if you had a network of people who were successful, powerful, ambitious, happy, kind, and hard working. They are the best in the world. You could call on them whenever you wanted to.
So how do you achieve this?
Well, it’s hard to get to such a high level. These people are busy. Just because you’ve met someone doesn’t mean that you’re great friends with them. The strength of an association and relationship is also important.
First, GIVE value.
This mindset is very important and yield startkly different behavior and reactions from a value-taking mindset. If someone decides to end a relationship or reject you, you’re not pissed off because you’re just giving value, like if you gave $100 to everyone on the street. When you approach someone, you’re generating value and people can send that difference rather than the shifty-eye, thirsty approach that value-taking brings.
I know you’re thinking “I have no value to give!” but that’s far from true. There’s always something you’re good or can offer to the table at that someone else isn’t. There must be some experience you have that others value. Or at least you have the potential to develop this skill or value.
I learned this from Michael Ellesburg from a private training course, but I’ve heard it repeated many times from other successful people in other bootcamps and books I’ve consumed. If you can’t afford a course, he also goes into detail about it in his book The Education of A Millionaire.
Michael has gone from dirt poor to over six figures and made good friends with many millionaires and a couple billionaires. He’s sometimes even flies in private jets with them.
How? He realized that billionaires don’t know everything. In fact, they’re often average at everything except the things that made them the money.
There’s plenty of ways to add value to them. Here’s just a few examples: help them get fit, help them be a better parent, solve their depression, help them publish a book, help them learn how to cook, or teach them on their eccentric hobby of kitesurfing.
Michael knew a lot about book publishing so he jumped at the chance to help a billionaire learn more about the industry when he wanted to publish a book. He was smart and volunteered to do it for free.
One point he makes that I want to emphasize is to DO IT WITHOUT ANY EXPECTATION OF GETTING SOMETHING BACK.
If you don’t, they’ll sniff it off of you. And they probably won’t help you in return.
Try to give for the sake of helping others. Otherwise, you end up like the sleazy car salesman who’s faking friendship for ulterior motives.
The second thing you can do is become a connector.
This is someone who simply knows a bunch of people and introduces people who could benefit from meeting each other.
This is a great example of providing value when you don’t have that much to offer.
You can do this if you’re broke or don’t have much money to spend on things.
All you’re doing is introducing people who should meet each other. And if they end up doing great things like striking up a great business partnership or becoming great friends and lovers, you get all the credit!
That’s what Michael Ellesburg did too. But it’s also a common networking concept I’ve heard about a lot before him.
The truth is that there’s plenty of inefficiencies left in the world. One person could be looking for a manufacturer and another person is a manufacturer looking for another product to sell. And they could live very close to each other but are unaware of each other.
Find connections like this.
I once met a connector in real life at a networking event. He was so enthusiastic with introducing me to people because it cost him nothing and there was potential to help a bunch of people by connecting them.
If you don’t know a bunch of people, just start going to some events and remembering who people were.
Bill Clinton was so good at this that he was known for never forgetting a name. In the book Never Eat Alone, I heard that when he was young, he accomplished this by writing down everyone’s name and a quick bio after he met them. Then, he’d review the cards later.
The third thing you can do is befriend people who are “Hubs.”
Hubs are what I call people who know almost everyone. The reason that the six degrees of separation works is because there a subsection of people who know almost everyone. Once you hit this person, you’ve hit critical mass and you’re fine.
Most people only know a small amount of people. You keep going until you hit a Hub, and that’s where your connections really spread out.
There have been experiments proving this. They sent a bunch of mail from California to New York with the condition that it had to be delivered by hand to a person you knew and slowly moved there.
They found that during the last legs of the trip, all the mail passed through 3 main Hub people. They were the facilitators.
I wouldn’t suggest pressing yourself too hard to befriend a Hub. If your values really clash or you really don’t like the person, don’t fake a friendship. That will come off fake and it won’t last anyways. Even if it does, you won’t feel good inside and their values will end up corroding yours.
But try to make an extra effort if you do notice a Hub.
Networking and social skills aren’t my strong point.
I know that they are a skill that can be improved over time with practice and learning.
Having said that, you can’t be great at everything. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by success advice. “I got to be good at networking, forming habits, being a great leader, being persistent, working hard, etc., etc.”
The solution to avoid overwhelm is to find what you are the best at naturally and spend more time at that. For your weaknesses, you simply want to cover them up rather than spend too much time on them. That’s the advice I’ve gotten from a lot of top performers like Gary Vaynerchuk.
One easy way to cover your weaknesses I learned from the book Mastery by Robert Greene. The book pointed to the founder of the most well-known start-up incubator, Y Combinator. He realized he would never be world-class at social skills so he deferred all social and political events to his wife, who was much more socially savvy.
Find a partner, friend, or employee to take care of the things you are really weak in. It could be networking, social events, accounting, business, charisma, public speaking, or anything else.
The way I do it is that I learn about this to be aware of opportunities and better myself when it’s crucial. If I find myself in a networking event and I meet a Hub, I realize this moment is more important than the average person. The average person might just skip passed it unknowingly.
I don’t try to be the best in the world at this because I know it’s not my strength. I know enough to capitalize on it if the moment strikes and to better myself. I am more able to identify opportunities of importance and understand the importance of it while others would have passed over it.
I’m still fairly young so I could be wrong. I might have the potential to be a great networker, but I doubt it based on how naturally introverted I am. At the very least, you should make a point to expand your network and befriend great networkers. I’ll leave the door open to improve because of this possibility.
If you do find that you’re naturally gifted at this, make sure to double down.
My top recommended further reading on this include: The Education of A Millionaire by Michael Ellesburg, Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi, and How to Win Friend and Influence People.
Have you ever heard about anything like this? Is there any valuable advice (with proof) that I didn’t mention? Let me know, I’d love to hear.