Updated on 05.21.07

The Value of Networking and Friendship

Trent Hamm

Eight days ago, I wrote a lengthy review of Never Eat Alone, a book about how exactly to network and maintain a large circle of friends and acquaintances, a skill that I myself often feel that I’m not good at.

After writing it, a few readers wrote to me and asked what the point of writing about such a book on a personal finance site was. I made a point of discussing the reasons, but during this house buying experience, we found out exactly how much spending time with friends and building relationships can really be worth.

Even though I don’t view myself as a particularly social person, I have built up a lot of acquaintances in my local area. I do most of the things discussed in Never Eat Alone: I keep tabs on people, offer my help when I can, and introduce people to one another when their meeting would be mutually beneficial, but I rarely ask for much for myself.

However, when I spread the word that we were putting an offer in on a house, within two days, I had the following offers without asking for a thing:

A new deep freezer (or another new major appliance)
A deep freezer from a foreclosed house that was used less than a year
A quarter of a cow’s worth of meat to put in said deep freeze
A two year old refrigerator
A new KitchenAid mixer for our new kitchen
A $250 gift card to a local appliance store (an unused wedding gift, it turns out)
One moving truck with driver for a day
Six pickups with drivers for a day
Thirty two people to move boxes for a day
Four offers of a day’s worth of babysitting to keep our child out from under foot
A free catered barbecue dinner for everyone who helps us move on the big day
Ten day passes to Adventureland (a local amusement park) for when my extended family comes to visit to see the house

What’s the point of this? Spending time with friends and helping them out comes back around. I didn’t expect any help – I was merely passing on some good news to my circle of friends, but I received an abundance of offers of help and other things.

Next time someone asks you to help move furniture or asks for some serious advice from you, help them out. When you have a chance to connect one friend to another, make it happen. It might take you some time and effort – it might even make you grumble a bit. But when things happen in your own life, you will be met with an abundance of blessings.

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  1. 60 In 3 says:

    Something else of value that “Never Eat Alone” mentions. Don’t do favors for other people because you expect something in return. Just help them to the best of your ability. Trust in the fact that you’re making friends, and that’s all the return you really need. Those friends will be there for you in the future, not because they owe you something, but simply because they want to help you.

  2. Deena says:

    Yes, so true. My b/f often gets frustrated when I network or do things for people. I always end up getting treated well or getting some sort of blessings. And he hardly gets offers for help. I tell him that I don’t treat people well because I want something in return, but it is a nice benefit. My friends know that they can always ask for help, and when I need it, I know they’ll always be there.

  3. Oh yeah — moving draws upon social capital in a big way. Here are the ways that we used our social network to move into our current house:

    * A friend in the neighborhood brought us the house flyer.
    * We immediately called another friend we knew — she used to work for a title company. She hooked us up with a real estate agent *and* a mortgage broker, both of whom were motivated to help us because of the connections involved.
    * Our home inspector came highly recommended from a friend.
    * When it came time to move, we were able to do it in a day with the help of dozens of friends and family. It was awesome. Another friend provided food for the group.
    * Several good friends spent evenings helping us strip wallpaper and tear up carpet.
    * When we needed to hire contractors, all the recommendations came from people we knew. With one noteable exception, we were delighted with the work these people did.
    * When it came time to create our gardens, our neighbors donated posts and plants: blueberries, raspberries, grapes.

    We were overwhelmed by the response. It was awesome. Without this sort of help, we would have had to pay for a lot of other stuff. (Actually, we probably wouldn’t have even got the house without the network.)

    Hmmm…now I want to write a post on this subject…

  4. Oleg says:

    What a beautiful thing it is when people are willing to help just because they can.

  5. jake says:

    Yup “Never Eat Alone” was a great book. One of the best books I’ve read in a long time. It preaches people skills. The essence of it is that when you help others, others will help you.

    Books like Never Eat Alone makes you realized that behind everything is people. When you start to realized this you begin understand how powerful networking is and how communication is so crucial today. Some people have this assumption that because we live in a digital world we dont need to interact with people as much, which can be further from the truth. I think today we need to know how to communicate and deal with people more than ever because we are connected more than ever before.

    Also I have to mention that personal productivity and personal development books that you have mention do relate to personal finance. It allows you to understand some of the problems that you have in finance. For example I used to not be great at finance in the past, but if you look at my room in the past its a huge mess. If you look at how I schedule tasks, and plan things its a mess. I used to procrastenate and do put things off. When I looked into books like GTD and The Now Habit, it allows me to organized my life and it goes right back to personal finance. When I have things organized I am better able to tackle financial issues, like planning for retirement or setting a investment plan. My point is that these books teach techniques on how to put your life in order and you can used this to put your personal finances in order.

  6. I am going to have to check this book out. I am terrible at networking.

    Thanks for the article though, it encouraged me to think about what I should be doing to help others out instead of expecting things from people I don’t know well or haven’t helped in some way.

    That sounds shallow, but sometimes it’s true. I get so caught up in my day to day activities that I forget to help others along the way. Thanks for the gentle reminder!

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