Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty

Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty– Book Summary                                             Author: Harvey Mackay

Donald J. Sauder, (2016)

Harvey Mackay has been giving great business advice for years, speaking from both the head and the heart. In his book, Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty, Harvey gives solid advice on the value of networking, and how to do so effectively.

Building a network is a lot like digging a well. It begins with the realization that, “Guess what? I might be thirsty one day. I just might need a well to draw on. I think I will work on that.” Then the homework begins. “Like all new behavior, the more you practice the skills of networking, the easier it gets.” Up the proverbial creek? If you’ve got a network, you’ve always got a paddle.

“Why should you network? Well first, in today’s economy, talent alone will not save you. Secondly, the traditional advice, more training and education, will not save you. The government will not save you. In fact, the more successful you are, or prepared for the real world, you still cannot save yourself in some situations. You need a network”. Harvey states that he were to name the single characteristic shared by all the truly successful people he’s met, that characteristic is the ability to create and nurture a network of contacts. No matter how smart you are, no matter how talented, you cannot do it alone. A network replaces weaknesses of individuals with the strength of the group.

Your car just gets you to work, your network can determine whether or not you’ve got work to get to. When Harvey graduated from college he began looking for a job. After exhausting – unsuccessfully – all possibilities, his dad said he should go see Charlie Ward. Harvey had no idea his dad, an Associated Press reporter, knew anyone other than politicians and athletes. Charlie was president of Brown & Bigelow, the world’s largest manufacturer of calendars, playing cards, and anything else with a logo. Harvey called Wards office. At the interview he was ushered into a room with enough space to hold 250 for cocktails. Charlie did most of talking…and then uttered the magic phrase, “I’m going to put you to work in our ‘goldmine’ across the street”. It was an envelope company. The job consisted of using a wooden handle like a miner’s ax, only there was straw on the end of it. Decade later, Charlie is still in the envelope business, still looking for that goldmine, albeit very successful. Harvey’s dad helped Charlie when the chips were down, and as they say, the rest is history. The point is, Harvey’s career success and first job were from a network.

Your best network will develop from what you do best. For most people networking is a learned behavior, like learning to swim. It is gradual – and often painful, even scary – process of trial and error, small incremental steps, and finally a few breakthroughs. The more you practice networking, the easier networking becomes, and more successful you will be at networking. A network provides a path, a way of getting from point A to point B in the shortest possible time over the least possible distance.

Positive networking is things like helping others prepare for life events, helping people develop, thanking people for how they have helped you, doing the drudgery work when someone is snowed with work. Negative networking is sharing gossip or inside information that you learned in confidence, collusion, or work that violates federal laws.

The really big networking mistakes people make in their lives come from the risks they never take. People aren’t strangers if you’ve already met them already. The trick is meeting the people before you need their help.

Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald’s, sold malted milk machines in California in the 1940’s. His best customers were two brothers who ran a drive-in, a relatively new concept. Kroc knew these brothers were on to something and tried to persuade them to expand so he could increase his sales to them. When that didn’t work, he persuaded them to sell him the entire business, and kept the name. Kroc found a Calvin Coolidge quote that expressed his business philosophy and posted it on the wall of every McDonalds. It’s important to every networker. “Press on. Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not. nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not, unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education alone will not; the world if full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

What do you have to offer that makes you memorable? What connects you with the person you most want to be remembered by? There are not dead-end jobs. There are only dead-end people. If you build a network, you will have a bridge to wherever you want to go.

In networking, you’re only as good as what you give away. It all comes down this: If you want one year of happiness, grow grain. If you want 10 years of happiness, grow trees. If you want 100 years of happiness, grow people. It takes years to become an overnight success. You can build a network with any set of tools, so long as you know how to use them. “Any competent carpenter can build a house, but no two carpenters have the same tool kit.”

“You can’t always be an expert. You can’t always know an expert. But you can always hire an expert”. Never assume a junior person is a meaningless person; he or she may be or may end up being more important than the big name. Treating everybody with dignity and courtesy is not only good manners, it is good business policy.

Two things people never forget: Those who were caring to them when they were at a low point, and those who weren’t. Elevators go up and down. “When God close a door, somewhere God always opens a window”.

In Harvey’s career, he has never once heard a successful person say he or she regretted the time and energy put into keeping a Rolodex file. Often the people who are closest to you, and those you need the most are the ones you most likely take for granted. What you are is God’s gift to you. What you make of yourself is your gift to God.

“I hope your network can help you find a job or earn a promotion or close a sale, or make money. But even if it never does, if your network can do what Mackay’s did – if it can help you help someone who needs it – then you have the best network of all”.

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