Did Jerry Maguire have it right?

It seems like every time I turn around I am reading a blog, an article, or hearing someone talk about ‘networking’ and ‘making contacts’ to develop your business. Frankly, I have never felt comfortable with the words ‘networking’ or ‘contacts’ – they seem so impersonal. I have developed a passionate view around this topic and want to share a few thoughts for this week’s blog.

It is not ‘networking’ it is building relationships

Do you remember Dicky Fox, the older man from the movie Jerry Maguire? I loved his no-nonsense philosophy on selling, business, and life. One of his quotations from the movie was simply: “The key to business is personal relationships.” So simple, yet so sage. I was raised with the perspective that is ‘all about people’ – and that remains to be true. What this means to me is that it is not about ‘making contacts’….what does that really mean anyway?! It is about building relationships. It is not about collecting hundreds of cards and having empty conversations at the myriad of ‘networking’ events which proliferate our world today. It is about creating ‘win-win-win’ opportunities – you, the other person, and the mutual customer/client/market.  ‘Networking’ is vapid, shallow, and insincere on a surface level. Period. Building relationships creates fertile ground for the seeds we mutually plant to grow. There is the huge difference.

Who or what does it serve?

The litmus test for sincere and genuine conversations – not to mention building solid relationships – is ‘who or what does this serve’? If the answer is ‘you and you alone’ – this will be a short-lived ‘relationship.’ What I know for sure is that as hard as it can be sometimes to continue to ‘give, give, give’ with little appearing to come back in return – it always comes back if the intentions are pure and sincere. As I build my business, I find myself introducing people to others that can be of mutual benefit, doing a lot of pro bono work, and referring individuals to jobs and potential opportunities in their fields of interest. To be honest, sometimes I feel like this has become my ‘full time job’ and there are days where I wonder ‘what am I doing’?! Well, being in service to others and our clients is rich and fulfilling regardless of payment. And I do believe ‘paying it forward’ will create a flow of energy which ultimately will come back. It is not always easy when the recessionary pressures loom all around us. Yet, I know for sure that if we stay true to our purest convictions of offering and providing good service to our clients and meeting others with their benefit in the forefront of our minds – it will be rewarded.

Be present.

Hundreds of self-help books have been written around the philosophy of ‘being present in the moment.’  It is indeed ‘where the juice is’ when building relationships and creating strong connections with others. When we meet others, nothing is more powerful than feeling like the person is totally, 100% focused on you. The person is intently listening to you – the spoken and unspoken words. This can only be authentically accomplished when we are present in the moment with that person. I feel certain that we have all been in the situation at one of these networking functions where the person with whom you are visiting is casing the room with his/her eyes to see ‘who else is there’ and who their next ‘contact’ needs to be. When that happens I feel like chopped liver. And what a missed opportunity for them! I, for one, am not endeared to those individuals – and they fall into a ‘stack of cards’ of invisible folks I have met – not a new budding relationship.

Help me…help you!

Many of my clients know I love this famous line from the movie Jerry Maguire which Tom Cruise used with Cuba Gooding in the locker room. Tom was super frustrated with his client, and was basically begging him to ‘help me – help you.’ What a wise phrase as it pertains to relationships. Relationships are built on mutual support. As we meet others, having the perspective of helping them with their lives and businesses AND the additional perspective of making it easy for them to help us with our lives and businesses – can be a powerful combination. I have found that most folks actually do want to help and be in service to others.

One easy step to building strong relationships is to make it easy on others to help and support you (and vice-versa). Follow-up with new people you meet. Sincerely – not with some form letter or blanket email. (Yes – believe it or not – I have received boiler plate letters from individuals I have met at networking events….what are they thinking?) Create an easy to understand value proposition of what you offer, how you can be of service to them or others they know. Offer unsolicited information, URL’s, books, articles and seminars which would be of benefit to them. Make relevant introductions – and share openly your circle of relationships to support them. This last point is a true differentiator in building relationships. I have met many new people in the past few years as I build Alignment, Inc. It has been amazing to see the correlation between the wildly successful individuals and the marginally successful individuals. The wildly successful individuals are those that are generous with their time, business relationships, and knowledge. They are secure in their philosophy based on abundance not scarcity – and share openly. Those that hoard and come from a scarcity mentality create that reality for themselves. Supporting others as well as ‘helping them help you’ builds an undeniable flow of energy which benefits everyone.

So, did Jerry Maguire have it right? I think so, with one small exception. I don’t think you always ‘have someone at hello.’ Authentic business relationships require time, sincere interest, mutual benefit, and purity of intention. Through a simple change of perspective, one can turn the barrage of networking events, which are available to us, into a wonderful experience of being of service to others. It doesn’t get much better than that – and the rewards are multi-faceted.

8 responses to “Did Jerry Maguire have it right?

  1. Kristin – you are so gifted! This is yet another example of your many talents – you get to the heart of the matter and communicate it in a way like no other. Thank you for building true relationships – you are the best example of exactly what you are saying in this post. Bravo!!! Sandy

  2. Kristin – great post! Authenticity is key. Even if you can’t be “present”, being authentic about that allows room for re-engagement. If I cannot be fully in the moment with another person – I’ll ask for another moment when I can – and then honor it.

  3. Your blogs go right to the heart of what really matters when all the smoke has cleared. Any lasting relationship is like marriage- give and take, but mostly compromise. And compromise is a kind of forced re-evaluation, which, like oil changes… we all need regularly to keep us operating more efficiently! I avoid networking events and event networkers like the swine flu.

  4. Loved your article. I am planning on sharing your blog with my Relationship Management Team. These are the ideas we are working on not just for our external customer but our internal ones as well. Sharing the knowledge of senior management with our junior partners to ensure the success of our business and employees. Many of the skills needed to foster good relationships in our business can not be taught in a class but need to be observed as every customer/client is different. Since we are a global company, cultural differences play a big role in how we build these relationships.

  5. Dear Kristin:

    Although I’ve known since our early years that you were bright, it wasn’t until I started reading your blogs that I began to understand the amazing depth of your insight, and your uncanny ability to clearly articulate the guiding principles of leadership. Keep up the great work; the world needs more authentic voices like yours.


    Have a Happy Thanksgiving! LOL, Stacy

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