Today starts a 3-part series on building meaningful and strategic relationships and networks.

Ok, let’s do this. Get out a piece of paper and a pencil. Write a list of everyone you are close to, both personally and professionally: family members, friends, work colleagues, clients, community. Anyone you feel is part of your many circles right now. It could be an extensive list. Take your time, and write it out. 

Look at that list. Underline the ones you are closest to. Your confidants: the ones you trust, the ones you feel have your back.

Now, make a list of 1-10. Write out your most important values — work ethics, spirituality, morals, character, etc. —  within yourself. Words like respect. Loyalty. Character. Courage. Love. Me? Giving is a huge thing. So “The Give” is at the top of my list. Write anything like that. 

Now, go back to your list of people.

Start with the ones you underlined. Now, clearly, you have positive feelings for everyone on the list. This is not about that. Which ones on the list come *closest* to the same value systems you cherish? Try to be honest. Try to do this without judgment. A family member may not come too close. No worries. You still love them. Chances are, most of the people you put on the list have many similarities to you. 

“Remember, it is ok to have people in our lives who may not fully align with our path. These people are in our lives for a reason.”

Now circle everyone who comes pretty close to your value system. These are the people who mirror you. These people are part of your core. Are they the ones you underlined? This is just collecting data. We will discuss this at the end. 

We have been conditioned to believe “opposites attract.” Other than a magnet, though, does it work with people? Look at your list. It seems you are not as different as you may have thought, right? Chances are, the people you have here are tremendously similar to you. Not the other way around. 

 “Like attracts like.

One of the critical foundations of all business relationships is that we like to do business with people we like. Who do we like? People who are similarly aligned with us — our ethics, morals, values. (Like attracts like!) Think about it. Think about all of the colleagues you interact with daily. Think about customers, clients, vendors that you have a working relationship with together. Now think about your favorite barista at your local coffee shop. Or a bartender at your local pub. Why do you enjoy interacting with them? Because you most likely share similar interests.  

Ultimately, why do you like them? Because you know they share things in common with you. Maybe they have your spirit. Or your sense of humor. Or they have the same vibe. Who knows. However, whatever it is, you click with them, and you enjoy the time you spend with them. You have things in common. There are more “similarities” than “opposites. You are alike.

The same goes with your social circles and even your other half. Sure, on the surface, my wife and I are different. But at the core, we are very similar. And that’s the foundation that has kept us together since we met in college. 

“I consciously focus on the similarities I have with everyone I meet, both personally and professionally.”

First and foremost, I want to be around people that I enjoy and want to be around. Again, I know that they reflect both who I am and who I will become. 

 I don’t care if you’re a multi-millionaire; if you are not someone I enjoy being around, I prefer not to have you be a part of my network. Fun is another core anchor value of mine. When you are in a state of having fun, the sky is the limit to what you can produce and create! Having fun directly relates to you being passionate and not having your ideas confined by limitations. 

“If we can’t have fun together, chances are we won’t work well together.”

I surround myself with better people than me (which isn’t difficult! LOL!). I *love* people who are smarter than me, more successful, who see things differently. How else can I truly learn? 

“It is a gift to be able to emulate someone in your life and grow!”

I want to be around people with a similar mindset of desiring to be the best version of themselves. Look, no one is going to be me. Impossible. But, similar people? I love it. High character. Respectful. High EQ. Open-minded. Embrace others. Givers. 

Remember, It’s important to note that the same goes with your personal circle. Who you are personally is who you will be in business. There is no such thing as “it’s not personal; it’s just business.”

“All business is about relationships. Never forget that.”

If I surround myself with people that fall in line with what I stated above, it will be hard not to achieve my goals. I’m intentional about it. I put myself in a position to elevate myself or my businesses.  However, my top priority is helping others achieve success as well. These goals and ambitions are attained over time. 

Let me be clear. It hasn’t always been an easy path. I, too, have been seduced by people, thinking they are something they are not because they were manipulative. I have a big heart, and I give everyone the benefit of the doubt. But, the more I see the true colors of someone, the more I will decide.

 And, yes, I pull away from those who are takers or those who think more highly of themselves than others. And, like you, it can be challenging and hurtful. But, I *must* do it. I can never compromise my value system with anyone else. Neither should you. And, it’s ok. 

I have understood who I want in my life to create my vast network of business and personal relationships. This network directly affects my success. And, you can create one as well.

When I first started creating my network, I attended networking groups as a guest. It helped me get a flavor for the group (mission/purpose/culture). Once I identified where I could deliver the most value, I became a member. After attending networking groups over time, I found that I could only help those I met. Meaning, if I met three people, I could help three people. I wanted to deliver more value, so I realized the only way to do this is to create my networking group. This allowed me to bring in people who held similar values to me. (Like attracts like!)

 “I knew instinctively so many like-minded people together could be a compelling group. We would only elevate each other!”

This allowed me to help everyone, even if I didn’t physically meet them. I didn’t create events that were sent out to the world; it was all invite-only. Again, those that I invited could invite people who had the same mindset as us, coming for The Give (again, one of my most important values). It sets the culture and delivers an excellent ROI for all who attend. Then they invite others with a similar mindset, and it continues to snowball. Like attracting like! 

Why should I stop just in the region in which I live? So, next, I started to create networking events (strategic dinners) in other cities.  This allowed me to expand my opportunities while opening up doors personally.  

“At the end of the day, I’m just doing what I love to do, bringing people together in an environment that delivers the ultimate experience and helps build their business.”

I love to connect people, so it’s making sure I have the right people at the events who understand that it’s all about The Give (again, a core value). 

Go back to the list of people you wrote down. Now, look at the ones you did NOT circle. Many of them could be more aligned with you than you think. They are in your life for a reason. Maybe it’s time to rethink your relationship with them. They could be in your inner circle as well, and they could be vital in expanding your network. 

“Who we have in our lives is ultimately a reflection of how we view ourselves.”

 If you strive to hold yourself to the highest standard, only keep those who are doing the same close to your chest. One last time: Like attracts like. The more you know who you are, the more you will know who you want to attract around you. Your collective spirit will help you all rise together. 

Next week, in Part 2, I will go deeper into forming successful personal and professional networks.

Go forth and conquer!