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Are You Using This One Powerful Tool to Connect?

WRITTEN by: Bill Sterzenbach |
categories: Business Growth

Aug 2014


Help someone else first and frequently before expecting them to help you. This simple formula will bring you measurable success in connecting with others.

Helping others to succeed will bring you success.

I've found that when you genuinely take the interests of others to heart, you tend to find a sort of inexplicable "media karma" effect where things just seem to improve for yourself. However, you need to have a formula to make it work. I've tried various methods of this approach over the years and finally discovered a formula that worked for me.

The 8:1 Rule

Over that last two years, I've spent an increased amount of time trying to connect with experts (to join our growing team) and with prospective customers (to help our growing team keep growing) on LinkedIn and Twitter. With this heightened effort, I was able to see through iterative process and tell what was working and what was not. Since I knew that helping others to promote their content was helping me as well, I needed a way to ensure I was doing this consistently.

I eventually learned that the only way I was going to make any progress was if I created some rules for myself. I arrived at the 8 to 1 rule. For every one of my posts, I need to promote AT LEAST eight posts for others. Usually I promote more than eight, but for those eight, I make sure I can promote  in some meaningful way with some genuine effort. This means that I may share, like, retweet, etc., many more than eight posts for every one of my posts, but I work hard on at least eight.

Actually READ What You're Promoting

With these types of rule-based initiatives, you can easily get caught in a sort of robotic process where you are just routinely sharing and not really adding to the conversation at all.  Take special care to not fall into this trap. Thoroughly read each post you share and find something especially interesting to comment on when you share it. Your followers are presumably interested in what you have to say, so be sure you add your insight to the post to make it attractive to your followers. Sometimes I'll read an entire newsletter, following each link to find one cool nugget that my followers might like about it.

Repetition and Perseverance

I didn't start noticing any great uptick from my efforts for nearly a year. Hang in there. It takes people a long time to notice you and to realize that you're helping them consistently and not just for immediate reciprocity. For example, I only share to reach some other goal that doesn't directly effect me - getting a pet adopted, helping the hungry or promoting other local businesses. I don't share anything that doesn't serve some purpose to the person on who's behalf I'm sharing. The majority of my shares are to promote local businesses in Springfield, Dayton, Cleveland or Columbus (where we have offices). We've recently begun using the #localmfg hashtag to organize our efforts to promote these local businesses.

Be Selective in What You Share

Not everything shared by the people you'd like to connect with is worth sharing. This is the model I follow for sharing:

  1. Is it potentially interesting to a large percentage of my followers?

  2. Can I tweak the headline or link to make it interesting to my followers?

  3. If not 1 or 2, then I'll just wait for the next opportunity rather than inundate my followers with potential "meh"-ness

Appreciate but Don't Anticipate

When someone for whom you've been sharing reciprocates, be genuinely appreciative because you should never expect that they will do so. After all, they didn't ask for your help, so you can't expect them to even notice in most cases. Keep in mind that if you're doing this for the right reasons and in the right way, you won't even need them to reciprocate for you to receive benefit, but of course it's a nice extra.

Getting Started

Start by creating a list of people in your space who you'd like to get to know better. Then make it part of your daily calendar to follow/connect and start sharing. If you'd like some help with LinkedIn or Twitter list building, just give me a shout in the comments and I can share some great tools. Go get 'em!

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