Network Your Way to Success (and I Don't Mean Social Network)

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I am sure you have heard "It's not what you know, but who you know" many times. This is an excuse as to why someone else might be more successful than we are. However, as with most adages, a grain of truth lurks inside.

Much of your business and financial success will be determined by your network -- not just who you know, but much more importantly who knows you. All of this boils down to your network -- people and businesses that support you and your business, and vice versa.

Many people mistakenly believe that quantity strengthens your network, but quality is more important. For example, I have know person who can get me in front of thousands of qualified prospects with his endorsement. His solitary efforts could be more valuable than 500 weak ones.

With the advent of social media, there is a huge myth that "friends" or "followers" equate to your network. The person I mentioned above is not even a social media friend, and yet that relationship could be worth huge money to my company. Social media (such as Facebook (FB), Twitter (TWTR), LinkedIn (LNKD), Google Groups (GOOG) and Pinterest) is just one small part of a solid network.

There's Gold Out There

Social media is a modern gold rush. Some people have made a fortune finding gold and utilizing social media. However, bigger fortunes were created selling all the stuff to help you find your mineral or virtual fortune.

You should spend some time on selected social media outlets because there is no doubt that some good things can come from social media involvement. I know many people who have landed a job or gotten great leads from their social media accounts. Unfortunately, many of those same people totally ignore their non-social media networks.

Anywhere you go and almost everything you do can be a part of your network. Make a list of the top five places you visit every month. Your list could look like this:
  1. Supermarkets and other retailers.
  2. Gym (build your body and your contacts during the same time).
  3. Groups you or your kids belong to such as sports teams, scouts, clubs.
  4. Your workplace or place of business.
  5. Social groups, such as golf, cards, hobbies.
Within such groups is your next great job opportunity, your best new clients and life-saving people. The key is to know how to be a part of a network successfully.

Ditch the Pitch

Far too many people are trained to develop a 30-second elevator speech and shotgun it out to anyone who will listen. The results are dubious at best. Yes, you will occasionally get something. However, take that brief opportunity to expand your network to focus on what the other person does and how you can help. Consider this hypothetical conversion between you and me:

"John, what do you do for a living?"

"I have my own wealth strategy company."

"Wealth strategy? That's interesting. What's your specialty?"

"I show families how to create tax-free generational wealth without risk or a 401(k)."

"Great, John, give me your card, and while you're doing that, tell me how I might be able to help your business in the next year."

Give (Most Importantly) and Take

This approach will blow John away and show you are not just a taker, but you are first a giver. When you get back to your office, immediately send John a thank you note with your card. Mention that you would like to find out more about how you both can help each other's business and you will be calling next week to set up a short chat. Don't ask for any business.

%VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%By following this simple strategy every time, you are separating yourself from the crowd and showing that you are a professional and are genuinely concerned about the other person's business and wellbeing. You are not machine-gunning them with your speedy pitch, but instead you are establishing yourself as a resource for them.

Try this simple strategy of asking your contacts what they do or what they need that you might be able to help with. If you can help, make sure you do, and you will develop future contacts for that perfect job or business and someone who will go the extra mile for you when the chips might be down. Get in the habit of finding out more about your contacts than they know about you. Focus on quality relationships with the right people rather than thousands of meaningless contacts that really don't care if you live or die. "Dig Your Well Before You're Thirsty" by Harvey Mackay is a required read for anyone serious about developing a powerful network.

John Jamieson is the best-selling author of "The Perpetual Wealth System." Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

7 Bad Habits That Cost You Thousands of Dollars a Year
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Network Your Way to Success (and I Don't Mean Social Network)

Apart from the health costs (which are worth considering), smoking can drain your finances. The average cost of a pack of cigarettes is $5.51, according to the American Lung Association.

If you're a pack-a-day smoker, that means you're burning through $2,011.15 per year. That's enough to take your significant other on an one-week vacation -– including airfare, hotel and restaurants.

If that's not compelling enough, consider this: If you invested $2,011 per year ($167 a month) for 10 years, compounding yearly at a reasonable 7 percent growth rate, you'll have $27,690 within a decade. And the power of compounding only picks up the longer it has to play out. Even if you never added to that stash after the first decade, at that rate, the value will about double every 10 years.

And that's not even touching on any medical bills you may face.)

Potential cost: $2,000-plus a year (for a one pack a day in a state with near-average prices).

There's a reason that some people call the lottery a "voluntary tax" -- or, more harshly, a "tax on people who are bad at math."

Even if you're "just" buying a $1 scratch-off ticket each day, you're still throwing your money away. The odds of winning small lottery prizes are low, and the payouts are stacked heavily in favor of lottery. And the odds of winning a large lottery drawing like Mega Millions or Powerball are one in hundreds of millions. To put it in perspective, you have a (much) better chance of being struck by lightning.

And what if you're gambling with bigger stakes, such as slot machines or casino table games? Then we don't need to tell you how much you lose for every dollar you "make," because chances are, you're painfully aware of it.

Potential cost: $52 per year (one ticket a week) or $365 per year (one ticket a day). Or far more if you're hitting the casinos.
Whether you're pounding back dollar drafts during the game or indulging in high-end cocktails at a ladies' night, alcohol isn't cheap. Just a few cocktails each week can add up quickly.

Let's say you grab $1 drafts, three beers per sitting, twice a week. Factor $1 per drink as the tip, and you're paying $12 per week -– which comes to $624 per year.

What if you're drinking cocktails a couple of times a week? You could be looking at upwards of $2,000 a year in adult beverages.

Excessive drinking can also result in all sorts of other pricey problems, like fines for drunken driving, legal fees and higher insurance premiums -- not to mention that other wasteful spending moves tend to seem like great ideas when you're wasted.

Potential cost: $500 to $10,000-plus per year, depending on how much you drink, how expensive your liquor and whether or not you're bringing legal fees upon yourself.
It may not seem as "bad" as smoking or drinking, but regular drive-thru visits can add up -- both in terms of indirect health costs and and the price of the meals. Those enticing "value menu" items are rarely enough to fill you up, so you wind up buying a bunch, and the seemingly great-deal combo meals often contain more calories than the average person is would be wise to consume in several meals.

Either way, regularly eating out will take its toll. If you rely on it because it's quick and easy, consider investing in a slow cooker. Create big batches of food on the weekend that can be reheated throughout the week. Your wallet (and your waist) will thank you.

Potential cost:  $300 to $2,000-plus per year, depending on how often you hit the drive-thru.
Whether you hate the dentist or you're the "suck it up and deal" type when it comes to health issues, steering clear of medical professionals can cost you big-time.

Preventive care such as annual checkups can catch potentially serious issues before they become serious. Seeking treatment as soon as you notice something feels not quite right is the most effective way to prevent little problems from ballooning into bigger ones.

Also bad? Going to see the doctor but then ignoring his advice, like dismissing his instructions to get more exercise or improve your diet.

Potential cost: Tens of thousands of dollars -– or perhaps your life.
Your car, just like your body, needs regular checkups and tuneups to run smoothly. Ignoring that "check engine" light on the dash, going too long between oil changes, or pretending that strange squealing noise will take care of itself can create excessive wear-and-tear on your car.

Will it cost you money upfront to get your car serviced, maintained and repaired? Yes. But it will cost you much more if you ignore any looming problems until you're immobile by the side of the road, waiting for the tow truck.

Potential cost: $500 to $5,000-plus, depending on the required car repair.
Any shopaholic can tell you the consequences of a retail spending spree, but even if you think you're a savvy consumer, you could be guilty of bad spending habits that quickly add up.

Do you grocery shop when hungry? Jump to buy something just because it's on sale? Open up store credit cards for that 15 percent off your first purchase, then forget to pay off the balance in time? Make impulse purchases at the register (or online)?

All of these things, while they might seem minor fiscal transgressions at the moment you're committing them, can add up. Be deliberate and strategic about your spending to get the most out of your money.

Potential cost: $500 to $5,000-plus per year, depending on how often you make impulse purchases and what types of items you're buying.
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