Thursday, November 12, 2009

What do I have to give?

During my trip to Stockholm this week, I met with a 26 year old entrepreneur. Johan has just moved to Stockholm from his home in the South of Sweden and has a limited network. He is marketing a product to the Marketing Directors of major FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) companies and is being encouraged to build his network in order to get the connections he needs.

As we sat down to chat, Johan immediately told me his biggest challenge. "I am only 26, I don't know many people. I understand the importance of being able to help other people before asking for their help, but I'm not sure I have much to give."

This was a problem I heard many times during my time with BRE, and have written about before. As far as I am concerned, Johan has already overcome his major obstacle.

As long as you are willing and prepared to help other people in your network, then people will be happy to help you. They can tell who is genuinely interested in them, even if they are not in a position to help immediately, and who is 'hunting' for what they can take.

Experienced and well-connected business people networking with a 26 year old new to the City will not expect Johan to be in a position to help them at the moment but many will be more than happy to help him. It may be that they benefited from such advice and connections when they were younger. They may see future benefits from associating with someone who is likely to develop their business, they may just hope that he will do the same for another young entrepreneur in the future.

Having the right mindset is the most important thing, even if the opportunities to help are not there yet. Besides, show a real interest in other people and you may be surprised just how much you do have to give.


  1. You're absolutely right Andy! Being willing to help is a crucial first step in getting help yourself.

    And I'm sure after you left Johan he'll be feeling a lot more confident in what he has to offer other people.

    Great post

  2. A great way to help and grow your network is to answer questions on LinkedIn. You answer enough of them you can find your network grows automatically and authentically. Both on and offline.

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