The Golden Rule of Networking
By Bob Burg
Mar 18, 2003 - 6:23:00 PM

The Golden Rule of networking is simply this... All things being equal, people will do business with and refer business to those people they know, like and trust. That's it. That is what it's all about, and our goal is to develop new relationships with people on an everyday basis and develop those relationships to a point that those people feel so good about us, they know us. They like us. They trust us. They want to see us succeed. They want to help us find new business. They want to hopefully be a part of our business if that is apropos, but they definitely want to be a part of our lives, which means they will go out of their way to help us succeed through referrals.

So what we want to do is - we want to develop personal walking ambassadors. See, we know that it has been documented that the average person knows about 250 people. Thus every time you meet someone new on any given day for any given reason, and are able to cultivate and develop that relationship with one person to the point that one person feels so good about you - they know you, like you, trust you, want to see you succeed, want to help you find new business, want to be a part of your business if that is apropos, but definitely want to be a part of your life. Every time we do that with one new person, we've actually just increased our personal sphere of influence by about 250 people every single time. Do this with enough new people on a consistent basis and before long, you will absolutely have an amazing, enormous, humongous sphere of influence.

Now we are going to talk about one aspect of that, some questions we can ask that will immediately cause this person to gravitate towards us and want to know more about us and want to have a relationship with us. If you use these few questions, you will see that the amount of people that you can quickly win over to your side just multiplied greatly, exponentially.

Now when we are in a conversation with somebody, and throughout my Endless Referrals system, I talk about basically three things - how to find the right people, how to meet the right people and how to win them over. We are just going to talk about one three-minute aspect and that is asking some open-ended questions with someone once you get to the point where you've met them and this could be anywhere whether it's one on one, in a group, what have you.

You see, what we know we want to do is invest 99.9 percent of the conversation with that person asking that person questions about themselves and their business. We all know that, right? Because the people we find most interesting are the people who seem most interested in us. No, really! How many times have you been in a conversation with somebody who let you do all the talking, and you came away from that conversation saying to yourself, "Wow! What a fascinating conversationalist that person is."

And see, we have all done that, so I like to ask questions I call "feel good questions". Feel good questions are simply questions that are designed to make that person feel good about themselves, about the conversation and most importantly, about you. Now I have ten of these questions in my arsenal, but the good news is you will never have time to ask all ten, so you don't have to worry about that. In fact, it would be almost intrusive to that person if you did, but you'll usually have time to ask two or three.

Okay, first question. The first feel good question is, "Dave, how did you get started in the widget business, whatever that person does? Say, "How did you get started in the real estate business? Or, Mary, how did you get started in the oil exploration business? Or, Steve, how did you get started as a professional printing representative?" I call that the movie of the week question because doesn't everybody want to tell their story? Doesn't everybody want to be the movie of the week in somebody else's mind and have you focus all your attention on him or her? And you might be saying, "Well, Bob, that's not me. I don't like to be the focal point of anyone's attention? I don't like to talk about myself?" And my response to you would be that I know that's true with you, but everybody else in the world wants to talk about him or herself, so just go with it. Go with that principle.

The second question I will usually ask is, "What do you enjoy most about what you do?" See that is a feel good question. It is a feel good question that elicits a feel good response. We are taught to immediately find that person's pain, so we can cure that pain with our perfect product or service or opportunity, but see the rapport hasn't yet been established. They are not ready to tell you all about their life's mistakes, so let's, instead of finding their pain, find their joy. "What do you enjoy most about what you do?" It is quite the opposite from the negative feel bad question like saying to the person, "Tommy, what do you just hate most about what you do? And while we're at it, how about the wretched excuse for a life you live?" Not going to have the results we want, so we ask, "What do you enjoy most about what you do?"

Now after we've asked a couple of these questions, we've developed kind of a rapport and the person feels good about us. Now we are going to ask what I call the one key question. Now this is not even one of the ten feel good questions. This is a question that is only asked after you've gotten the initial rapport established, and here is what I call the one key question that will set you apart from everyone else. And that is this, "Gary or Susan, how can I know if somebody I am talking to would be a good prospect for you?" "Mary that is really fascinating what you do. How can I know if somebody I am talking to would be a good prospect for you?" "Dave, how can I know if somebody I'm talking to would be a good prospect for you?"

What have we done when we've asked that question? We've done, I think, two things. One is we've said to this person, "I am interested in you first." We are being "you" oriented instead of what most people are being "I" oriented, and they really want to know, "What can you do for me?" Now they may not come right out and say that, but isn't that what they are really implying when they hand the person ten business cards and say, "Keep one for yourself, and give nine to your closest friends." But we're not doing that. We're taking interest in them. The other thing we are doing is we are getting that person to help us to help them.

Very quickly, here is what I mean. We're talking with Gary. Gary is a center of influence, a great guy and somebody we'd love to have either in our network or as a prospect or his 250-person sphere of influence, what have you. Gary sells copy machines, those big copy machines to businesses, and we say to Gary, "Gary, I don't know much about this particular product. I am sure it is really good. Tell me, how can I know if somebody I am talking to would be a good prospect for you?" Now Gary has to think about it for a moment because he has probably never been asked that question before. Okay? I mean, people who love Gary have probably never asked Gary that question before because people don't care, but we care. We say, "Gary, how can I know if somebody I'm talking to would be a good prospect for you?" So he has to think about it for a moment, but finally he says, "Well, I'll tell you what. If you ever happen to be walking in an office and you notice a copy machine and next to that copying machine is a waste paper basket which is filled to the rim and totally overflowing with crumpled up pieces of paper, that is a really good sign that that copy machine has not been working really well lately; and that would be an excellent prospect for me." So Gary has just shown us, he has told us how to look out for him, how to prospect for him which means we can introduce Gary to other people, we can edify him and talk about how they can know who would be a good prospect for Gary.

We can follow up with Gary with a follow up system we use which is simple, nice and easy, and we are in a position now to be able to control the situation, to be able to work this relationship as we want with good feeling already instilled right away.

Bob Burg
Excerpted from Bob Burgs presentation at Jim Rohn's two day event. Bob Burg is an expert in business networking and positive persuasion skills, and author of the best-selling audio series "Winning Without Intimidation", "Endless Referrals", and a 2 videotape series "Winning Without Intimidation". For more information on Bob Burgs audio and video tape series and Jim Rohn visit

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