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In my recent travels to India I had the opportunity to experience interaction with the local tuk-tuk (also known as auto rickshaw) driver. My driver though not a fluent English speaker proved to be a valuable asset during my stay. While whisking me around Delhi, he was able to provide recommendations for restaurants, shops, clothing stores, and places where I should tour to learn about the city’s culture and visitor experiences. It was amazing to me how very few words we were able to communicate, but yet still, he was able to make my experience enriching.

The encounter began when I walked out of my hotel to be immediately greeted by the gentleman driving along. I asked him for food, motioning to my mouth. He quickly replied “Yes” with me following up to ask how much.

“One hundred Rupees,” he smiled. A price I was completely okay with paying since that is the rough equivalent to sixty cents US.

He quickly drove off weaving his three-wheeled open air vehicle through the crowded streets of Delhi, frequently honking his horn to alert other pedestrians and drivers as we navigated the streets. At times we even drove on areas designated for walking as no space was off limits for motorized vehicles.

When we arrived to the restaurant, I was impressed with the quality and standards that he’d selected. I went to pay him the fare and he quickly said “I wait.”

As I ate one of the best meals of my life, he patiently waited outside. When I emerged from the restaurant to again mount the tiny vehicle, he asked “Shopping?”

“Sure,” I replied.

“Good place,” he said through his smile.

Again, off we darted until we arrived at a four story store front where the staff spoke much better English. Again, he waited outside as I browsed from floor to floor purchasing lots of things representative of the country. I noticed many other non-Indian shoppers in the store and wondered how they had found the location as well. As I left the store, I witnessed many more cabs and tuk-tuk drivers dropping off non-Indian patrons and realized what was going on. The drivers had a network of retailers and restaurants for which they provided recommendations. My fare wasn’t important … the referral was where he really gained. I again climbed back into the vehicle as my driver asked abruptly, “Indian Spice Market?”

“Yes,” I smiled. He had done a great job and this was an adventure for me.

After leaving the Spice Market with more Teas and Spices than I had even considered, I asked him where I could find toys. He didn’t understand me. I got slightly stressed trying desperately to communicate and I thought that my luck had run out. But to my surprise, he drove off to meet another colleague that spoke better English. I explained what I wanted, the colleague explained the recommendation to me, I agreed, then he gave my driver instructions – and off again I went. We spent the day together as he made recommendations for various sites I should visit and me taking those recommendations.

As I entered my hotel with my hands full of shopping bags and lots of pictures, I thought about the power of your personal network and derived the following three points for a well-formed network:

  1. End-to-End Service – your network should support your ability to fulfill the needs of your constituents, customers, clients, or stakeholders. Your network should be vast and the individuals within your network should have context for your specific domain area.
  2. Resource Gap Fulfillment – the ability to tap into your network for satisfying a need related to fulfilling a request is critical. We cannot individually be all knowing, so being able to quickly reach out to your network for help in vital.
  3. Pay-It-Forward – as your network supports you, you must also support individuals in your network. Be willing to hand-off and refer opportunities outside of your domain to those in your network who will provide a better experience than you. It is the best interest of the person you are serving and will be appreciated.

Your personal network can support your ability to provide impeccable customer service, your career growth, and ultimately your income; be sure to cultivate your network, the relationships therein, and your genuine support to those within it. Remember, your personal network sustains you!

Contact Coach Clinton to discuss creating a path for you to strengthen your skills and optimize your networking skills.