In the affairs of men, nothing matters more in building wealth, influence and leverage than the friends you keep. In short, your network! As Brian Tracy once quipped, "you can't fly with the eagles if you keep scratching with the turkeys." Chinua Achebe captured it succinctly in Things Fall Apart, where he popularized the African proverb, "if a child washed his hands he could eat with kings." An English cliché says, "birds of the same feather flock together", and another says, "tell me your friend and I'll tell you who you are." Though the last saying is commonly associated with character issues, it can equally be applied to the subject of our discussion, networking as it relates to net worth.
Dennis P. Kimbro, the co-author of Think and Grow Rich: A Black Choice, once asked Don King, the boxing promoter and showman, "what are your goals?", and he fired back, "to become America's first black billionaire." When Kimbro queried, "how are you going to do that?" he retorted, "I just told you, by hanging around billionaires, learning all they know." T. Harv Eker, the author of Think Rich to Get Rich: Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, describes a simple test he says he administers to attendees of his Million Mind Intensive seminar. He says he asks them to write down the names of the top seven friends they spend most of their time with (excluding spouses and their kids), and says the average income of every attendee always reflect the average income of their top seven friends. Are you surprised? We conducted a similar exercise in our Dig Your Well Before You Are Thirsty (title borrowed from Harvey Mackay) seminar and attendees were dumbfounded by the result and all vowed to rethink the friends and network they keep. Still doubting?
Whenever you attend a social function, whether it's a society wedding, a big red-carpet reception, or a presidential ball, just watch closely who hangs around with whom. You'll soon discover that after the initial greetings and exchange of pleasantries, the people will imperceptibly drift into the groups they belong: the poor will gather together to moan the bad economy, the middle class will be back slapping their group members and boasting about the next big toy they are planning to acquire, while the rich will be talking in hush tones in their own circle where the next big investment is likely to come from. Generally, you won't see the super rich in these social events. They meet on secretive islands to plot the next mega deals.
Networking right is so crucial for success in life and in business that you ignore or neglect this discipline at your own peril. If you observe, the poorest people have the shallowest networks or no network at all to talk about. When the poor is in a bind, he has no friend to turn to. The opposite is true of the rich and super rich. They all have well oiled networks that enable them have advance information about new government policies before they become public knowledge; they are always the first to hear about new high yielding private placements, and they use their networks to literally safe their life. When a close mentor suffered a life threatening brain clot that made him pass out suddenly, it was the network he had built over the years that saved the situation. One, two, three telephone calls, and he was flown to London and within hours a simple but delicate procedure that drained fluid from his skull was carried out and he came back to life.