Last week, I was at Influence 2017, the National Speakers Association’s Annual Conference. One of our keynote speakers was a man by the name of Vinh Giang, a professional speaker and magician originally from Vietnam.

He was amazing, and his presentation on mindset and belief was, well, mind-blowing. But even more powerful than his content, even more impactful than his delivery, was his opening story. Vinh had us captivated from the start with a story he shared about being a professional speaker and the importance of belief.

The story was that just one short year ago, Vinh was at his first Influence conference. New to the National Speakers Association, he came to the event and sat in the back not knowing anyone. But despite his lack of connections and his “newness” to the National Speakers Association (NSA), Vinh had a dream, a belief that he wanted to speak on the Main Stage.

Now for those of you who are not speakers, you need to know that for those of us that are, the Main Stage at NSA is the holy grail. It is the ultimate sign that you have arrived. So imagine, just one short year later, Vinh goes from knowing no one at National Speakers Association to landing on the main stage delivering a general session keynote. Something that speakers who have been in NSA more than twenty years have never been able to do. WOW!

How did he do it? Through the power of networking. The power of building relationships and using the strategies and secrets that guarantee you can open any door.

Vinh went on to share that after Influence 2016, his first NSA conference, he reached out to connect with one of the main stage speakers. Vinh had been so moved by a man named Scott Stratten, so blown away by his presentation, that he made the decision to connect with him.

Now that may not sound like a big deal, but you need to understand that with more than 1500 people in that audience, Vinh was one of thousands who wanted to make that connection. So how did he do that? How did Vinh go from just another face in the crowd to a speaker with powerful connections that could catapult him to the main stage of NSA?

He used the Four Secrets to Networking and Opening Any Door:

  1. Take A Risk

First and foremost, you have to take a risk, a chance. Vinh knew that everyone and their brother was going to try to get to Scott Stratten. He knew that making that connection would not be easy. He also knew that reaching out to Scott did not guarantee Scott would respond or even be civil. Vinh had to take a risk, and be more vested in taking a chance than he was in getting the desired result.

  1. Invest First

Once you get past your own fear and get your head right, you need to focus on investing first. Most of the relationships we really want, we want because we know those people have something that could help us. That is why everyone is trying to get piece. So, you need to approach this networking with a servants’ heart. Vinh understood that if he was going to build a relationship with Scott Stratten, he would need to find a way to differentiate himself from everyone else. He did that by taking the time to invest, learn and find out what mattered to Scott Stratten. He found out what was important to Scott, and of course, what Scott needed.

  1. Add Value First

Once you understand, once you have invested in others, you can easily identify ways to add value. To help them before you ever ask them to help you. Vinh talked about this from the stage. He shared the ways he identified where he could add value to Scott Stratten, how he could help Scott. That led to trust, trust led to the relationship and that led to a mutually beneficial connection.

  1. Stay In The Game

With the relationship built, the connection made and the value added, it is key to stay in the game. In other words, make it your responsibility to keep the relationship growing, building and expanding. Vinh did not talk about this, or go into detail, however you could tell by the way he spoke about Scott Stratten that the value he added to Scott has been returned ten-fold. You could also tell that theirs has become a true friendship.

The key to networking is to find ways to help others. To have no expectation of return. If you lead with that mindset you can open any door, and build any relationship. So yes, I followed Vinh’s advice. The first person I reached out to after the NSA Influence Conference was Vinh. Looking forward to adding value to Vinh and watching that relationship build.