Every year I get asked to come speak to the business school at BYU on how to effectively network. I always enjoy it and find it ironic since I got denied admission into the school for my under graduate about 15 years ago. It was the school my parents attended and where they always wanted me to go. They didn’t put too much pressure on me but I could sense the disappointment when I ended up at a different school. That’s why it was nice to be invited to speak there, if only to make my father proud!
I love speaking about networking because it is what I spend a great deal of my time doing and because so many people do it so poorly. Done right it will open any and all doors to a life you never dreamed of. Done wrong it is a dread and causes nothing but stress and anxiety. This blog post isn’t going to go into too much detail about how to effectively network, I’ve covered that in my ebook "Living Life on Your Own Terms" and in my real estate course “The 100K Agent Blueprint.” I want to speak specifically about one part of networking that often gets overlooked; how most people choose their friends.
Think about your own life for a second; are you friends with the types of people you always dreamed about sharing a life with? Or are you friends with the people that happened to be raised in the same zip code as you as an adolescent? Or because they happened to buy a home in the same neighborhood as you all those years ago? I’m not saying you shouldn’t be a great friend to your classmates and everyone can appreciate a great neighbor. But if you are the sum of the 5 people you spend the most time with, shouldn’t you put a lot more time and thought into who those people are going to be?
My point of all of this is simple, most people meet their best friends like this: One day you come across a stranger and you say, “I like this one!” And if they feel the same way, you become friends! Doesn’t matter if you inspire each other to be great, doesn’t matter if you could have had a much more fulfilling life by searching out other friends, you settle for the ones that happen to come across your path. Don’t do this.
A much better approach would be to write down all the people that you admire most in life. From history, from all walks of life, people that lived in another time and place. Doesn’t matter. What do you admire about those people? Now ask yourself, “If I were to make a list of the 10 or 15 people that I think most have these qualities in this life, who would those people be?” Make the list. Now ask yourself, “What kind of person would I need to be to be comfortable in a friendship with those people?” Become that person!
After you have identified the types of people you want to be friends with and you have worked on yourself to be the best version of yourself, ask yourself this, “How can I create value in that person’s life and begin a friendship?”
I can’t tell you how many times in my life I have sat down and identified specifically someone that I looked up to and wanted to become friends with and then ended up becoming great friends with that person. One example that comes to my mind is Tim Ballard the founder of “Operation Underground Railroad.” From the first time I heard him speak I knew he was the type of person I wanted to be around. I admired him, I could see the goodness he represented, and I knew that my life would be better by being around a man like him. So I did this very thing and wouldn’t you know it a few years later I consider him to be one of my close friends and someone that I have been able to travel all over the world with doing good and helping out with his cause.
Another person that comes to mind is Bowdy Gardner. He is one of the VP’s at Vivint and somewhat of a genius I will say when it comes to business and recruiting. Back in 2010 when I wanted to make a shift in my business and focus more on referrals, he was one of 15 names I wrote down as someone that I wanted to become friends with. I called my good friend Jarom Dastrup and asked him if he would set up a lunch for me.
Bowdy was kind enough to give me some time and I’ll never forget that lunch. About 20 minutes in Bowdy looks at me and says, “So what do you want?” I just smiled and said, “to provide any value I can for you and your sales guys.” Long story short we started doing several events together, we began working out together, and Bo quickly became a close friend of mine. In fact, this week marks the 4-year mark since he and I and a few other friends flew to Brazil for the World Cup in 2014.
I love my childhood friends, I’m lucky to still have great relationships with so many of them. I have 8 best friends from high school that to this day are my 8 brothers and I would do anything for any one of them in a second’s notice. I got lucky cause every single one of them happens to be successful and push me to be better. I am also grateful for all my college friends and my mission friends, and everyone else that has come into my life over the past few years. But I want to tell all of you a little secret; if you are still in my life, it is because I want you there and that is why I have put effort to make that happen. It has been by design. I admire you and want to be your friend.
When I was in college I had a roommate that decided it would be a good idea to sit in his room and play Dungeons and Dragons on his computer for 40-50 hours per week. I kicked him out. He didn’t make me better; he was wasting his life away and I was empowering him if I let him stay. A few months after he started to work again and he’s now married, very successful at his work, and has multiple kids. He needed a friend to cut him out so that he could wake up and make himself better.
Look at your own circle of friends, how many of them pick you up? How many of them are negative influences and drag you down? How many of them are in your life simply because you haven’t put enough effort to find better people to surround yourself with? You would never let a stranger open your front door and throw a garbage can full of trash in your house, so don’t let your friends do that to your life. If you have negative influences around you, it is time to shed the dead weight, it is time to build your circle of friends by design. Just look at who you spend your time with and ask that one simple question, “Why are these my friends?” Hopefully the answer is because you want them there. Because they inspire you. Because you inspire them. Because you knew that by being friends with them you would be a better version of yourself.
Comment below and tell me about one friend in your life that you became friends with by design! I’m excited to hear about these examples in your life!