A fire casts no shadow.
The reason is simple science. But the idea leads us to a complex metaphor with immense power…
When I light a match and prove to folks that the flame won’t cast a shadow, they immediately think it’s because the flame is so bright.
You see, there’s a bit of an illusion at work.
While the human eye has a hard time seeing through fire… light passes right through it. And since the flame blocks no light, it casts no shadow.
I beg anybody who’s looking to change their life, to deepen their relationships and to build more wealth to pay close attention to the idea. It will lead you to all three.
Several years ago, we had a next-door neighbor with a self-described blessing of “the gift of gab.” This guy could talk to anybody about anything. He was kind. He was inviting. And he knew everybody.
What’s more… he was rich.
When I leaned on the post-and-rail fence between our properties one day and asked him how he did it, he freely revealed his secret.
“I’m not talented,” he said. “I’m sure my IQ’s below average. But I’ve always been able to talk. I mean I can make friends with anybody. Knowing a lot of people pays off – especially when you own a business.”
It’s true. My pal Jimmy knew a lot of folks.
When we asked for a good place to buy flooring (being new in town), he gave us the direct number of the owner of the local wholesaler. Need fresh seafood? Jimmy knew a guy.
Even after Jimmy rolled his Jeep into our creek one icy morning, he kicked out his windshield and greeted both the arriving police officer and tow truck driver by first name. (He then, by the way, jumped back into the frigid water to grab a floating bank bag stuffed with petty cash for one of his businesses.)
Jimmy is the epitome of the idea that a flame has no shadow. He’s transparent, and yet everything around him is lit up.
His financial success – despite, as he freely admits, many of his decisions – proves the immense value of a rich personal network.
Who You Know
Few high-worth individuals would tell us that their network wasn’t the leading factor in building their wealth.
In many ways, in fact, the world would be a different place without some rather unique connections.
Bill Gates, for instance, got his foot in the door with IBM not because of the power of his product… but because his mom just happened to volunteer alongside John Akers, the man in charge of the company’s operating system development.
And most folks have never heard of a band called The Quarrymen. Yet it’s a similar story of a chance introduction that changed the world.
The band wasn’t all that good. In fact, when the group was having some troubles with a few songs, its bassist introduced the lead singer – named John – to a friend he thought could be able to help.
The friend, Paul, helped John tune his guitar and guided the band through the songs.
It’s good that he did… because from that introduction, John Lennon and Paul McCartney went on to do some great things.
History is exploding with examples just like these.
In fact, anybody who closely examines them would be a fool not to conclude that relationships and our social networks play more of a role in our wealth and success than the degrees on our wall or the brains in our head.
As our old friend Jimmy would say, “I may not know much… but I know many.”
Do the Work
So how do we do it? How do we purposefully place ourselves in the middle of a network so strong that it’s virtually programmed to get us what we want?
It’s easier than most would think.
First, don’t be selfish. And second, don’t use the term “networking.”
We once met a young lady (a friend of a friend) who bragged to us about the weekly networking events she attended at a local bar. As a budding realtor, she was eager to hand out as many business cards as possible.
But she was entirely selfish. Her motive was all about what others could do for her.
We never found out where her career ended up; we walked away from her after she asked whether we were thinking of selling our home.
Again, rule No. 1… Don’t be a selfish “networker.”
That’s just gross.
To do this right, you genuinely must care about helping others. That means you must turn the traditional idea of networking on its head.
Don’t do it for you. Do it for them.
Yes, we all want to gain something more, but focus on others first… and you’ll be rewarded with more than you could dream of.
It leads us to one of the most valuable tools I’ve ever seen. It’s a simple table that helps us visualize our social network.
It’s quite easy to create.
Start by putting three columns in a spreadsheet or simply scratching them onto a piece of paper. Label the left column “Contact,” the middle column “Introduced By” and the right column “Introduced To.”
Fill it in.
Start with your most powerful contacts first. Who introduced you to that person? Fill it in. Who have you introduced that person to? Add their name to the list.
Soon enough, you’ll start seeing some telling trends. You’ll note who your most “valuable” contacts are, plus you’ll quickly see if you’re reciprocating the favor.
If that right-hand column is empty, you’re doing it wrong.
Your network will not grow like it could.
Reciprocity here is a must. Remember, a flame casts no shadow not because it’s the brightest light around… but because it allows other light to shine through.
An Easy Trick
For some folks, like my old neighbor, it comes naturally. He was blessed with the ability to talk to anybody about anything.
Most folks aren’t so lucky.
That’s why I lean on a trick that is one of the most powerful daily routines I’ve ever seen.
It comes from networking and retirement guru George Fraser.
Every day, he makes five calls to friends or family. It’s a great way to ensure his closest relationships are healthy and strong.
He starts by telling them that he has only 10 minutes to talk.
From there, he emails five folks he’s recently met – either new friends, folks who attended one of his presentations or somebody from church.
Finally, and this is key, he introduces five people whom he believes would benefit from knowing one another.
“This is what I have been doing for 40 years,” he said. “These are good habits. If prior to retirement you have not developed them, it would help you greatly to maintain and fuel new and interesting relationships in your life.”
Finally, like a lush garden, your network must be maintained.
We must be vigilant to eradicate the weeds and spot the relationships that could use some fertilizer. We must get rid of the folks who bring us down and give special care to the connections that might not get a lot of natural attention.
Build your network. Focus on it daily. And give back as graciously as you receive.
Do it well, and you’ll be healthier, you’ll be wealthier and, we’re willing to bet, your fire will shine even brighter.