Why relationships are 110% better than networking?

How this belief helped me work with the best people in the world

Misbah Ashraf
Jul 31, 2017 · 9 min read

When I look back at the last few years of my life, I see that there is only one thing that has contributed significantly to my growth every single day — The chance to work with some of the best people across the globe.

We grow when we work with smart people. We grow when we are faced with challenging problems that force us to get out of our comfort zone. We grow when we think of ground-breaking solutions.

That is how I have grown over the past few years.

Everyone wants these chances. Everyone wants to connect with amazing people, work with them and then use the experience gained for landing the next amazing opportunity.

But very few people understand the importance of long term relationship building. Personally, I feel that this is what makes all the difference.

Because, networking is not merely collecting email IDs or adding people to your social media network. Maybe it starts from that, but there is definitely a lot more to it than just that.

I noticed that there is a lack of understanding about networking in people around me. So, I started sharing with them the various frameworks that I had used to build relationships with people across the globe. It has been awesome to see those friends progressing in exciting new directions by trying those frameworks.

So, I thought of writing it down and and sharing it with you as well.

Before you think about how hard or challenging this might be or if you are someone who can even go ahead and build a global network, let me tell you one thing — I belong from a small town of Bihar, India and I had no network or family background in Business.

So, I had two options.

Get done with college and then work somewhere to build a network alongside. OR break away the status-quo and start something new altogether. With no obligations towards anyone but myself, I chose the latter.

Today, I have worked with some of the best companies from three continents and built long term valuable relationships with some of the best people that I look up to even today.

All of this has taken persistence, a strong will to create an impact and value, and most importantly a desire to take risks. If you have that, nothing can stop you from building relationships that you will be proud of.

Over time, the greatest risk you can take is to take no risks at all. You don’t need permission to lead, build, create, or to think differently.

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You need the courage to walk away from the majority, and you need the dedication to follow through. You’re not just a passenger riding by reality and leaving things as they are — untouched. You’re a participant, and your job is to challenge it and carve your own way.


These are a few things I have learnt about building never ending relationships, instead of just networking over social media :

1. Do your homework

If you want to take the best out of any conversation, you should know the person very well. It will help you establish the right context to have a meaningful conversation with the person.

Remember, you don’t get 100 times to meet people you admire. Try to make the most out of the first meeting!

Always try to meet people in person. In these times, when our inboxes are so full of mails from people, we do not understand the value of human connection that you can make while meeting in person.

I understand this. Hence, I was never interested in collecting email addresses. I wanted to have awesome conversations with crazy people like me. The number might be little, but I wanted to be surrounded by crazy people whom I admired and wanted to learn from.

According to what psychologists call “The Pygmalion Effect,” other people’s expectations of you heavily influence how well you do.

I used to spend a lot of time in researching about the person whom I want to contact. I tried to look them up via social media (i.e., LinkedIn, Google, and Twitter). Learning more about the person beforehand helped me get all the knowledge on which I could base the conversations.

I am always interested in the experiences and deep knowledge that comes from authentically interacting with the rest of the world. I try to find common interests between the person I want to connect with and then think about how I can create value for him during the first conversation.

Just this curiosity to understand the people I admire and help them in any way possible has led to some of the most exciting conversations that I have had in my life.


2. Shift Your Motivation From Getting To Giving

“The world gives to the givers and takes from the takers.” — Joe Polish

There are three basic kinds of people: givers, takers and matchers. Organizational psychologist Adam Grant breaks down these personalities and offers simple strategies to promote a culture of generosity and keep self-serving employees from taking more than their share.

When you’re driven by giving, you already know you’ll receive abundantly in return. The world gives to the givers and takes from the takers.

Here is an interesting summary from Naval, Angel List.

Whenever I have a conversation with someone for 30 minutes, I make sure I create value for the first 20 minutes and then focus on the learning for the remaining 10. Most of my conversations went well because I never had much expectations. It helped me to remain in the shoes of “Who I am”?

The key to developing unreasonably powerful relationships is to be your genuine self.

As Ryan Holiday explains in his book, Ego is the Enemy, always be a student. Remain humble. Don’t let ego take over, or it will lead to your inevitable demise.

You are not creating relationships for a week or a month. Powerful relationships are never ending. So, never forget to give back first before taking out any value.

I recently met a VC who runs a fund having more than 50 Billion USD in assets during my last Hong Kong trip. After a 3 hour meeting, I asked him a very simple question; “Why did you invest 3 hours of his precious time with me”. He responded back with “ The amount of value you have created even before the meeting is more than a month work for me”. I have asked again, why?

He said that the quality of introductions you have made for us in the exact niche we were looking for, couldn’t have been possible without someone that understands the market psychology so well.

If you keep creating value for others, at the end when you are looking for value out of them, it would be super easy for you.

I think this is where people go wrong most of the time and try to think of relationships as quick transactional value.

You don’t all of a sudden start networking and magically have a huge network of powerful relationships. It never ends up in anything.

I have recently worked with an awesome serial entrepreneur with whom I was in talks from a year and more. It takes that long to build powerful relationships that lasts a lifetime.


3. Define your goals

Even before reaching out to anybody, make sure that you have defined what exactly you want from that person. It helps you to have a contextual conversation. If you don’t set your expectations right, it wouldn’t add any value to you.

We are shy. We are hesitant to ask. And that’s precisely what holds us back.

If someone can really help you with something, do not be hesitant to ask. It could be mentorship, money or anything else. But, if you don’t ask, you will never able to know if that person could have helped you in any way.

And, this will be possible only when you are very clear about what you want from the interaction. It could be just exchanging knowledge also. But, be clear about it.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. This what may separate success from failure. — Steve Jobs

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Before meeting him, I knew that he is connected with ventures across China and South East Asia. He had been an active VC in that region and could help me connect with the right people in the companies I wanted to have a conversation with. This followup mail acted as a reminder and it helped me to get connected with people I wanted really quick.

It could have never happened if I haven’t done my research well and didn’t know my goal from this meeting.


4. Follow Up. Follow Up. Follow Up

This is a powerful principle behind building any relationship.

Never forget to follow up.

People generally do one or two meetings and then never followup. They get lost between the calendar events and are never able to create a strong bond.

After any great meeting, follow up by simply letting the person know how much you appreciate their time and thoughts. Try to remind them about the things you had discussed by simply sharing the meeting notes.

And, when you say that you are going to do something, make sure that you actually do that. Never over promise anything. It will actually help you in building relationships of mutual respect and admiration.

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In this fast moving world, everybody is super busy. So, it is possible that your email gets lost in their mailbox. Followup can help you remind them softly about your ongoing conversations with them.

Follow up is one of those things which I suggest everyone to do. You don’t know how this could act as magic for your lost conversations. If you have to create never ending relationships, the habit of following up and exchanging notes will always going to help.


5. Be Persistent

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Being persistent about your goals and creating value for others will always help you. If you are persistent in creating value for others, it will all add up in the long run.

You could just share some relevant articles with valuable insights with them on regular intervals. It also acts as a soft reminder for them and shows your ability to create value for them.

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Above is a small email update in my small network, which I send twice an year to share my story and ask if there is anything I could help with. It helped me build strong relationships with people who usually get lost in my ongoing conversations multiple times.

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“Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.” — Steve Jobs

At any point of time in your life, building powerful relationships is going to take a consistent effort in the face of difficulty and improbability.

Being persistent is one of the most important advices I would give to everybody who wants to create powerful relationships.

Another important thing that I’ve learnt is to respond quickly. You don’t want to lose out on the moment where people are in the zone to have a conversation.

I’m glad you made it till here. If you enjoyed reading it please help this post reach its audience and don’t forget to hit ❤️ button below.

If you ever want to talk about building powerful relationships, product, and growth. Feel free to reach out to me anytime.

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Thanks to String Nguyen

Misbah Ashraf

Written by

Building something new 💻 | Previously Product Growth @pulseqa @movewithpursuit @Toymailco | Build @thecibola

HackerNoon.com

Elijah McClain, George Floyd, Eric Garner, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Michael Brown, Oscar Grant, Atatiana Jefferson, Tamir Rice, Bettie Jones, Botham Jean

Misbah Ashraf

Written by

Building something new 💻 | Previously Product Growth @pulseqa @movewithpursuit @Toymailco | Build @thecibola

HackerNoon.com

Elijah McClain, George Floyd, Eric Garner, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Michael Brown, Oscar Grant, Atatiana Jefferson, Tamir Rice, Bettie Jones, Botham Jean

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