7 Keys To Building A Strong Network

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You would be amazed at how many times I’ve heard someone say:

“If I could just meet the right people or make contact with someone who could help me.”

I have a revelation for you. . .unless you step out of your comfort zone. . .you’re never going to meet the right people.

Here are seven keys to building a strong network.

1.         Expect to build strong friendships.

Everywhere you go. . .you need to expect to make new friends.

As we’ve taught for years. . .expectation always leads to manifestation.

Here’s a ten-step formula to developing new friendships. . .using the word “friendship” as an anagram.

F- RIENDLY at all times; always wear a smile, even when you don’t feel like it.

R- EGULARLY schedule plans and activities with family and friends.

I-   MPROVE your conversation and become a better listener.

E- XTEND your circle of friends by meeting at least one new person each week.

N- EVER spend quality time with negative people.

D- EVELOP self-control and discard wrong attitudes of temper, impatience, etc.

S- PEND more time discussing ideas than people and things.

H- APPY thoughts purposed in every situation you face. Remember, the greater the challenge, the sweeter the victory.

I-  NVEST more of your time doing things for others.

P- LAN your involvement in church, civic, and social activities.

Make a determined effort to get around those who can exhort, encourage, edify, build you up and lift you up.

2.         Seek out the right kind of people to network with.

I’m convinced everyone has the seeds for friendship and networking all around them.  We’ve just got to keep on the lookout.

First, church.

Purpose in your heart to meet someone new every time the church doors are open.  If you attend a small church. . .then get to know someone else better.

If visitors come to your church. . .take a genuine interest in meeting and getting to know them.  No hidden agenda. . .just get to know them. . .and let God develop things naturally if they are meant to be.

Hebrews 13:2 in the Amplified Bible says:

“Do not forget or neglect or refuse to extend hospitality to strangers [in the brotherhood—being friendly, cordial, and gracious, sharing the comforts of your home and doing your part generously], for through it some have entertained angels without knowing it.”

And by the way, don’t be a respecter of persons.  There’s an old saying that you can’t judge a book by its cover.  It’s true.

Make sure you’re gracious and friendly to everyone even those who may not dress the best or appear to be someone who wouldn’t mesh with your social circle.

James 2:1-4 in the Amplified Bible says:

“My brethren, pay no servile regard to people [show no prejudice, no partiality]. Do not [attempt to] hold and practice the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ [the Lord] of glory [together with snobbery]!

“For if a person comes into your congregation whose hands are adorned with gold rings and who is wearing splendid apparel, and also a poor [man] in shabby clothes comes in,

“And you pay special attention to the one who wears the splendid clothes and say to him, Sit here in this preferable seat! while you tell the poor [man], Stand there! or, Sit there on the floor at my feet!

“Are you not discriminating among your own and becoming critics and judges with wrong motives?”

Yes there’s a right way and a wrong way to meet people.

Second, social media.

If you do social networking. . .Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Linkedin or Instagram. . .the world is your forum to tell of His excellent greatness.

You and I have unlimited opportunities to testify of His love to millions of people without ever leaving our homes or offices.  The power of modern technology has brought the fulfillment of 1 Chronicles 16:8 directly into your home.

1 Chronicles 16:8-9 in the Message Bible says:

“Thank God! Call out his Name! Tell the whole world who he is and what he's done!  Sing to him! Play songs for him!  Broadcast all his wonders!”

I feel impressed to offer a word of caution.

Understand there are some unscrupulous people on the social media sites who are stalking people for their own selfish. . .and dare I say, sometimes sinful purposes.

If your new friends ask you to loan them money with a heart-wrenching story or they want you to contact them via email as opposed to the respective social vehicle be very cautious.

Having said that. . .social media also presents an excellent opportunity to make true friends. . .and witness to folks.

Third, workplace.

If you work in retail. . .you have the opportunity to meet a lot of new friends.

Women. . .I encourage you to use wisdom. . .so your friendship isn’t misconstrued for something it isn’t.

Whether on the job or at church. . .when you meet someone tell them your name before asking for theirs.

Ephesians 5:2 says:

“And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

On your job. . .you weren’t hire to witness to people. . .you were employed to fulfill a particular assignment for your employer. . .always be mindful of this.

The best witness you can be. . .is to live your life before co-workers so that it seems the fruit of the spirit is just oozing out of you.

Fourth, marketplace.

When you enter any business. . .whether to make a purchase or window shop. . .treat everyone you meet with the dignity and courtesy they deserve as creations of our Heavenly Father.

One of the most successful and financially-independent entrepreneurs I’ve ever met drove a beer truck for a living.  When he got involved in a networking business he had a group of friends who became his prospect list because he had already made a great impression long before he ever started his new endeavor.

And by the way, he is now a super strong Christian and has been for years.

Make relationships in stores. . .based on the kindness in your heart and not the amount of money you spend or don’t spend in the store.

Always remember. . .

Proverbs 11:1in the Message Bible says:

“[Without Good Direction, People Lose Their Way ] God hates cheating in the marketplace; he loves it when business is aboveboard.” 

Proverbs 16:11in the Message Bible says:

“God cares about honesty in the workplace; your business is his business.” 

When you’re honest in your dealings. . .you will develop friends. . and yes, you’re even building a network.

Fifth, civic and fraternal organizations.

There was a time when every city and town in America had numerous civic and fraternal organizations.  While the number of visibility of these organizations has diminished . . . they provide an excellent opportunity to meet and establish strong friendships.

If you’re a veteran. . .there’s the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and others and a lot of veterans groups out there.

If you’re looking for a civic organization. . .there’s the Rotary, Lions, the Jaycees and numerous others.

You’ve also got the Moose, the goose and the got-loose.  Okay, I’m just teasing. . .people also join the Moose, the Elks and other beneficial community organizations.

If I haven’t mentioned your organization. . .don’t take it personal.  The same rules apply.

Regardless of the organization. . .show yourself friendly and you will make lasting friendships.

Beware of secret organizations. . .regardless of how well-intentioned they sound.

Sixth, home-based businesses.

If you want to meet a bunch of positive people who want a better quality of life for themselves and their families. . .look no further than your favorite networking organization.

Over the years, my fine wife Bev, and I have been members of various networking organizations.  In fact, we built an organization once that had over 1,000 people in our downline.

There are some great networking organizations and you can make some incredible contacts but consider these 12 questions in selecting your organization.

1.         Do you really like the product or service?

2.         Is it consumable?

3.         Is the product or service reasonably priced?

4.         If it’s a health-related product, are the product’s claims substantiated by the          FDA?

5.         Is it inexpensive to join?  (A start-up fee of more than $100 is an indication of a    possible scam or at least one that is hard to make into a money-maker.)

6.         Can you comfortably afford the monthly product cost?

7.         Are you encouraged to inventory a large amount of product?

8.         Would you use the product even if you didn’t hope to profit from it?

9.         Are you willing to maximize the tax advantages of a home business?

10.       Are you willing to work hard and dedicate a consistent amount of time to the         business?

11.       Have you met your upline?  What is the support system?

12.       Do you realize that network marketing is not a get-rich quick program?

Seventh, professional and networking organizations.

There are some great organizations . .like BNI International with local chapters where business people meet, greet and connect.

Move outside your comfort zone and you’ll find friends. . .personally and professionally.

3.         Follow up with the people you meet.

When you properly follow-up with the people you meet. . .they realize they’re important to you. . .and everyone wants to feel important.

This is particularly true. . .in a business setting.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 in the Amplified Bible says:

“Therefore encourage (admonish, exhort) one another and edify (strengthen and build up) one another, just as you are doing.”

This scripture works on so many levels

Hopefully, if you were able to get a business card and/or email address. . .before the sun goes down. . .send them an email or note. . .this is what’s called a warm transfer of friendship.  This is particularly important if the person you’ve met. . .is very busy.

Don’t overdo it . . . you don’t want to be considered a stalker.

On a personal level, sometimes the people you meet have a pressure point or a particular need for which you need to pray.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 in the New International Version which says:

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”

The beauty of this scripture is that as you encourage others. . .God is going to do the same thing for you.

Ephesians 6:8 in the Amplified Bible says:

“Knowing that for whatever good anyone does, he will receive his reward from the Lord, whether he is slave or free.”

When you encourage others. . .God encourages you.

Sometimes the little things mean the most.

With due respect to the members of my family. . .my favorite Christmas gift of all times was given to me by my daughter this past Christmas.  It wasn’t the Blu-ray DVD player, the book or other sweet gifts.

The gift that has blessed me so much. . .is her writing me an email every day with what’s on her heart.  I am blessed beyond measure.

The same thing is true in following up with people.  Over the years, I’ve written postcards and notes to people only to subsequently find them framed and hanging in their homes. Sincere words can make a huge impact.

One final thought before we move on.

Dale Carnegie, the author of “How To Win Friends And Influence People,” said:

“There are four ways, and only four ways, in which we have contact with the world. We are evaluated and classified by these four contacts: what we do, how we look, what we say, and how we say it.”

If this teaching were about following up clients or leads. . .there’s a lot more I could and would say. . .but these principles apply in every area of our lives.

4.         Treating people. . .the way God wants you to treat them.

Following-up is important but so is how you meet people. . .let’s see what we can learn from Romans 12 in the Message Bible.

Verses 1-2 says:

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out.

Before you can learn how to treat new friends whether in life, your business or network. . .you must learn how to treat yourself.

Let’s review the points I have underlined in these first two verses.

Now let’s move to Romans 12:9-16 in the Message Bible which says:

Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.

11-13 Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.

Now let’s review Romans 12:14-16 which says:

14-16 “Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody.”

5.         Contact the folks on your list. . .with thoughts on the Word and relational information.

I frequently quote Bill Swad, who at one time was the largest Chevrolet dealer in America as well as being on the Board of Trustees at Oral Roberts University.  He said:

“Great minds talk about ideas.  Average minds talk about events and small minds talk about people.”

Nurture a network of friends and associates who will encourage, exhort, edify you and build you up.

Hebrews 10:24-25 in the English Standard Version says:

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

Stir up one another reminds me of Proverbs 27:17 in The Living Bible which says:

“A friendly discussion is as stimulating as the sparks that fly when iron strikes iron.”

During a very important season in my life. . .a mighty man of God named John Daigle became a treasured mentor and is a longtime friend.  Instead of beginning a phone conversation with “Hi” or “Hello” or “What’s Up”…we began our calls by saying “Teach me something.”

The advances in technology are forever changing the way we communicate with one another.

I have previously suggested on my morning Rich Thoughts calls and our quarterly Spiritual Entreprenuer calls that you share what God’s been revealing to you to your friends via text messages.

First, make a list of the seven new friends or potential business associates.

Second, decide how you will communicate the quote, statement or scripture.

Third, decide the timing and frequency.

For instance, I recommend you pick a certain time each day. . .so it will be something your friends look forward to.  I also recommend you only send one message of encouragement each day.

Don’t send messages to change your friends. . .send messages that changed you.

Keep a log of what you’ve sent. . .when. . .and what, if any, feedback you received.

Matthew 18:20 in the English Standard Version says:

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

Now you can gather together in so many more ways than just being together in person. Like-minded people draw other minds like theirs.

Frankly, by having a plan to communicate you’re doing more than just staying in touch. . .you are creating a three-fold cord.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10,12 in the English Standard Version says:

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!. . .And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”

6.         Facilitate contacts between the people on your list and in your network.

The greatest network ever built isn’t Verizon or any other cell phone provider. It isn’t Coca Cola or any other food/beverage enterprise that has duplicated itself all over the world.

The greatest downline ever built was by a man from Galilee named Jesus who turned the world upside down.

Jesus effectively communicated with and developed the leadership characteristics of those who followed Him.

Jesus recruited Andrew. . .who recruited his brother, Simon Peter. . .who literally recruited millions of others through his teaching.

In Acts 1:8 Jesus says:

“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Spreading the message of God’s love to all areas of the earth is extreme word of mouth advertising.

In fact, in one day. . .Peter was used of the Lord to add 3,000 people to his Christ-believing network.

Acts 2:40-42 says:

“And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.

41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

“Even today, the message of Salvation is being preached all over the world and many are giving their lives to Christ daily.”

7.         Always be the first to give.

Exodus 23:19 in the New Living Translation says:

“As you harvest your crops, bring the very best of the first harvest to the house of the Lord your God.”

Be the first to give.

Our Heavenly Father examines the heart of those who give.

2 Corinthians 9:7 in the Amplified Bible says:

“Let each one [give] as he has made up his own mind and purposed in his heart, not reluctantly or sorrowfully or under compulsion, for God loves (He takes pleasure in, prizes above other things, and is unwilling to abandon or to do without) a cheerful (joyous, “prompt to do it”) giver [whose heart is in his giving].”

If you’ve made up your mind. . .purposed in your mind. . .and, you’re a prompt to do it giver. . .then no doubt. . .you will give to God first.

When we give God the firstfruits. . .we’re headed toward financial surplus in our lives.

Give back the best of your time, energy and money.

There is never a time you cannot afford to give.

Deuteronomy 26:10

“And now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land, which thou, O Lord, hast given me. And thou shalt set it before the Lord thy God, and worship before the Lord thy God.”

A couple of final thoughts.

When it comes to building a strong network of friends and other folks. . .remember, treat them as you wanted to be treated.

Luke 6:31 says:

“Do to others as you would like them to do to you.”

Lastly, I’ve very taken by this quote from C.S. Lewis who said:

“The next best thing to being wise oneself is to live in a circle of those who are.”

That’s the kind of network you want to build.