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How One Question Brought Us 60,000...

How One Question Brought Us 60,000...

July 23, 2014

Did you know there is one question — and it’s only 13 words — that can expand your networking circles enormously? I call it the Golden Question, and I’d like to share it with you.

Read on to learn how the Golden Question has helped us get more than 60,000 people to sign up in the last 10 days, even while I’m in a foreign country, and how it will help you...

My Unusual Summer

I’m spending most of this summer in Israel, working extremely hard assisting a non-profit organization that means a lot to me. I’m working “American hours” (because of the time difference between the two countries) so I’m not getting much sleep. But the cause I’m involved with energizes me so much that I’ve been able to keep going and going despite the sleep deprivation.

The non-profit I’m supporting is an initiative related to the terrorism and fighting in Israel. Hearing the news from America is completely unlike actually being in Israel, where everything is so real. While this cause is very meaningful to me, I recognize that not everyone shares my interest and dedication. Still, there are life lessons I am learning day-by-day that are simply too valuable not to share with you. So I’m not going to use this article to tell you about the organization itself — although it’s near and dear to me — but instead I’m going to tell you about the eye-opening takeaways I have been discovering, and continue to discover.

The Golden Question

While networking is crucial in any environment, it is even more so when working in a foreign country. It’s probably the single best way to find and develop relationships with people who can help you get what you need. I have found that the Golden Question which has always worked for me has opened doors over and over.

So...what is the question?

“Can you help me, and if not, whom do you know who can?”

Okay, technically it’s two questions. But the point is that when asked in this manner, it not only presents your request to one individual, it also takes the pressure off of them to find a solution by asking them to tap into their resources. When asked like this, it is very likely that they will respond with a name, phone number, or email address of someone they know. Each time you ask the Golden Question, it opens the door to more and more possibilities. But there is a catch, read on to find out what it is.

It’s an incredible way of utilizing our networks. You’ve heard of Six Degrees of Separation; this is a practical way of tapping into the goldmine of connections each of us have.

How it Works

Here’s the catch.  If you are a giving person, constantly helping others, then it’s far more likely you’ll also receive help from others  — although not necessarily the same people — when you need it.  It’s called “giving forward.” Be helpful, and you’ll find that others will want to help you, too. If not, then your question is likely to fail.

Using the Golden Question Abroad

Let me tell you how the Golden Question has played out for me this summer. To give this initiative wings, a lot of pieces had to come together quickly. We needed endorsements, connections, graphics, and a website immediately, and in a foreign country, I had to find people to do it.

So I started by reaching out to my network with the Golden Question. One of my contacts connected me with someone I’ll call “Mordechai the Connector,” who pointed me towards some contacts he had, and we were on our way. Our team used this question very effectively. As we needed resources as well as PR, within days one connection led to another. From word of mouth to social media, the word spread. When one woman saw what we were doing, we spoke, broke bread together then she wrote an article that was published, one of many articles that our team got that helped our cause go viral. Within about a week, we had over 60,000 volunteers sign up. Fortunately, we have a team of great volunteers who are making amazing things happen as this is really a group effort, not one man’s journey.

Through referrals, we accomplished so much in such a short time. Despite the disadvantages of my being in a foreign country and working with a foreign language, the pieces really fell into place, and it all started and continued by asking one question. We tapped into professional networks, alumni associations, and other valuable resources, word of our project spread from person to person. The sphere grew rapidly and soon people were calling or emailing from Alabama to Iceland to Uganda, all willing to participate.  We’ve been receiving as many as 1000 sign ups per hours.

Getting it Done

As part of the nonprofit’s efforts, we were going make certain connections and deliver some care packages in dangerous areas to those fighting terrorism and defending freedom. I would need the right connection to cut through the red tape and get into restricted areas. How was I going to do that? Once again, the Golden Question worked wonders.

It just so happened that a few weeks ago, I was giving a workshop to leaders of nonprofits from around the world in Jerusalem. I reached out to them now in my time of need and asked the Golden Question. This brought me directly to "Mendy", who was going to be heading to the restricted area that very night.

Before I knew it, I was on my way to the restricted area with Mendy and his brother. They are both quite amazing, having been providing humanitarian aid to terrorist fighters and victims in dangerous areas for a long time. Mendy’s brother showed me the scar on his neck to show for it;  on one trip, they were ambushed and attacked and Mendy’s brother was shot in the neck. The bullet actually went through his neck and hit Mendy in the shoulder. Mendy vowed that if he survived the ordeal, he would dedicate his life to bringing light to those who are fighting terrorism.

Today, Mendy carries his magic cell phone with all the right numbers in it. So each time we got to a checkpoint with a “CLOSED CROSSING” sign, he made a call, handed the cell phone to the Military Police, and we were on our way.

En route, we saw a car that had just been hit by a missile, with flames 20 feet high shooting into the sky.  At one point, we were so close to the mortar fire both on foot and in the car that we had to roll down the windows of our van or the pressure would have imploded the van’s windows.

But our efforts were successful, in part because of the Golden Question.

Making it Work in Business

Networking takes willpower. If you’re timid or easily dissuaded, you won’t get far. And from a business perspective, when making connections, use the name of the referring party. “Mike suggested we speak.”  This gives the introduction a sense of familiarity.   

Take aways:

  1. Be a giver. Live abundantly, continually look for opportunities to give, invest in relationships.

  2. Use the Golden Question: “Can you help me, and if not, whom do you know who can?”

  3. Migrate towards influencers when you want to accomplish big things.

  4. Be genuine and caring.

Taking you from where you are to where you want to be,

Jon