THE MAN WITH THE 5,000
by Leni Chauvin
A few years ago, while leading a seminar on the Secrets of Superstar Networking, I began to address the importance of forming quality relationships with people of like mind. The establishment of, and the careful attention to good, solid relationships, in my opinion, is the foundation upon which every strong referral network is built. Itís not the number of people you know that counts, but the quality of the relationships you have.
I hadnít gotten past the first or second sentence of my presentation when a man popped up from the audience and proceeded to tell me I was all wrong. What really mattered, in his opinion, was how many contacts you have. ďIíve been in this city for 20 years and I have over 5,000 business cards in my Rolodex,Ē he said proudly. Well, like anybody who has ever been in sales for over five minutes, I knew an objection when I heard one. I also knew if I were to remain silent, the man would be forced to talk and would undoubtedly shoot a great big hole in his own theory. He did just that when, after a painful silence, he said, ďOkay, admittedly some of them must be dead by now!Ē
Well, of course they were! Having a collection of cards of people you met once at a business function sometime within the last 20 years will produce the same results as having a collection of baseball cardsóless, in fact, because at least with the baseball cards, you got to enjoy the gum that came with them! The baseball cards will also be far more valuable to you if you hold on to them long enough, for they can be traded and sold, even after the player has gone to that great baseball diamond in the sky. Not so with business cards.
What, I wonder, is the value of holding on to the business cards of some anonymous donor you met somewhere along the line sometime in the past 20 years? Assuming they are still alive, what are the chances of them being in the same occupation, the same company, or the same city as they were 20 years ago? Indeed, what are the chances you might recognize or remember these people if you were to run into them again if all you had as a reminder of your first encounter was a yellowing 2 inch by 3 1/2 inch piece of paper with their name on it? Slim to none, Iíd say.
It seems to me that the man with the 5,000 cards was living in a fantasy land where he mistook activity for action. His activity was to go to various functions and to collect as many business cards as possible. By doing this, he thought he was actually connected. He thought he had lots of contacts and he thought lots of people knew him. WRONG! Really what he had was a nice little innocuous hobby of collecting pieces of stiff paper. For him to be a man of action, a man who could produce results based on the data he had acquired, would take considerably more than just cataloguing his collection.
If you are embarking on a new career or trying to grow an existing business or practice, I urge you to become a person of action. Take the time and effort to get to know the people on the cards YOU collect, to find out if there is some potential for strategic alliances, to stay in touch with your contacts, and to regularly update your files to make sure the contact information remains accurate.
Thatís just the beginning, though. Find out how you could be of service to the people you meet, because a person of action understands clearly that by helping others he is adding value to the service he already provides. It takes careful scrutiny of your database on a regular basis to weed out the deadwood and make room for people of like mind, people who share the same beliefs, code of ethics, and attitudes as you. These are the people who belong in your Rolodex or database. People you canít remember or with whom you havenít connected in years are just taking up valuable real estate.
Which would you rather be: the man with 5,000 cards, or the person with far fewer, yet potentially far more valuable names in their Rolodex or database? The choice is yours.
(c)2000 Leni Chauvin
Leni Chauvin is a professional success coach
and an internationally recognized expert in business networking whose strategies
have led to millions of dollars worth of referrals for her clients. She is available
for keynotes, training, and business coaching for people who want or need more
business. To subscribe to her FREE e-mail newsletter mail to: NetworkingGazette-On@lists.WebValence.com