Usually when you make friend with an elephant, you also tend to make friends to the elephants in the herd. Elephants generally move in herds. Which means you can always make more than one friend at a time. Networking is all about making multiple friends and helping them – first.
Its similar when you are able to move with one contact in a large OEM organisation which is starting something new – and this is key – if they are already well established they will not be interested into building a deep relationship. That time the relationships are more transactional.
When they are getting in new – even if they have been established, but they are getting in a new product or service – then if you can make them succeed, then the team involved with you gets into a deeper relationship with you. They are willing to recommend you.
In this the principle of reciprocity plays a big role. Robert Cialdini first articulated this principle in his book Influence. Its worth reading the book if you have anything to do with marketing.
Once you help the team which is targeted for this new offering launch, succeed with you or because of you then if you ask them for a favour to connect you with other members of the team in other regions, other countries, they oblige.
I built a lot of my international network of people because of this. Now I ask my team members to do the same thing. Being a small company we are always limited on resources, but building networks doen’t need resources. It needs humility, it needs you to be paying in advance and things work.
Most people don’t get this right because they go into any relationship with “what’s in it for me” rather than “what can I do for her” . Let me however put a caveat here – you will find some selfish people who will take advantage of this. I had given this same advice to my son and he did this with one of the restaurant owners for their free photo / advertising and she just took the photos and used them herself. But for every such incident, I have also had one person referring me to at least 6-7 new people, so it pays off. And these become long term relationships.
Till next time use the herd of elephants to build your networks and take you places.