People do business with, and refer business to, those people they know, like and trust. And, the key word is “people”—not products, services or ideas. It’s the relationships with people that make the difference in your success.

This is one reason those who focus on how they can give to and serve those they know, as opposed to what they can get, always seem to get the most. Since they are always focused on helping others—and in ways not necessarily related to their business—others feel good about them in return.

Let me give you a few examples of people I know who are successful givers. As you read about these high-powered winners, ask yourself how you could duplicate these principles in your life and business.

The Fourteen-Million-Dollar Woman

Terri Murphy is a full-time writer and speaker who got her start in real estate sales. We speak only occasionally, but whenever we do, Terri immediately wants to know if there are any people or potential clients I’d like her to introduce me to. Of course, I always want to do the same for her, because I just flat-out like her so much.

I call Terri “The 14-Million-Dollar Woman,” because when she was an active Realtor®, that’s how much she sold every year, through good markets and bad. (And this was back, as Terri says, “when $14 million was a lot of money!”) Terri achieved much of that on a part-time basis, and if you knew her even for one minute you’d immediately see why.

Once, while speaking near her city, I paid her a visit to see just how she did it. As I walked with her through town, it felt like I was with a visiting Hollywood celebrity. Everywhere we went, people loved her—they adored her. And why? Because she not only seems concerned with other people’s welfare, she is concerned with it.

What’s more, she acts upon it. Terri actively tries to help everyone with whom she comes into contact. She connects people with each other in a way that helps everyone benefit. As a result, people feel good about her. They know her, they like her and they trust her.

Internet Friends for Life

I met my friend and occasional joint-venture partner Sean Woodruff through the introduction of a good mutual friend, Stephanie West Allen. Stephanie is a giver in the truest sense of the word and a classic connector.

Early in our friendship, I had helped Stephanie with a project she was working on. Sean had also provided some expertise. Stephanie was grateful and connected Sean and me, thinking we might team up on some projects. I was impressed with Sean right away, as it was obvious he had that giving spirit as well. Sean later said he sensed the same thing about me. Before long, Sean and I worked together on several profitable joint-venture projects.

Here’s the kicker: the friendships between Stephanie and me, Sean and Stephanie, and Sean and me, all took place via the Internet, well before any of us had ever met in person. And to this day, although I’ve now met them both in person during my travels, Sean and Stephanie have yet to meet one another face to face.

In fact, they’ve never even spoken on the telephone.

Yes, these principles work just as well on the Internet!

A Prototypical Networking Superstar

My friend Bea Salabi is the absolute prototype of the successful giver. Bea came into town as the owner of a new mortgage brokerage company that consisted of just herself and one partner. A year later, Bea had three very profitable offices and over thirty team members.

Bea is someone who goes out of her way for anyone and everyone she can, from sponsoring a family of eight children, to serving on her local board of directors for Habitat for Humanity, to taking over 1,500 local underprivileged children to the movies in one summer. And, please don’t think she does this with the idea of acquiring business: she doesn’t. (Although oddly enough, it always seems to happen.)

On the other hand, she also throws huge, lavish parties for her prospects and clients. From the parties, she clearly knows she’ll eventually receive business, and she really goes all out in providing an abundance of delicious food, a massage therapist, entertainment and many other goodies. Though this is part of her business public relations efforts, she’s just the type of person who goes all out when she gives: it’s simply part of her nature. Bea gives in high style, whether it’s for her business, for charity, or for friends.

Come to think of it, for Bea, it’s all “for friends”!

Once, a woman in the area was having her house foreclosed on. A couple found out about it through their church and came to Bea, saying they’d like to buy the house to prevent the foreclosure. They would hang onto the home, they said, until the woman was able to buy it back from them.

Because she offered her services for free, Bea did not receive a single cent from the transaction. However, the couple turned out to be true centers of influence, and because they felt so strongly that Bea’s efforts should not go unrewarded, they began spreading the word about her. The referrals she received led to—are you ready for this?—over twenty-five closed transactions, for which she did indeed earn commissions!

This is what happens to successful givers.

My friend, Ivan Misner, author of Masters of Networking, says, “Givers gain.” Yes, it’s that simple.

Excerpted from Endless Referrals: Network Your Everyday Contacts into Sales (3rd Edition).

BOB BURG is a faculty member of Networking University and a
frequent speaker at networking conventions.