Monday, June 26, 2006

Networking Exemplars: Bill Gates and Warren Buffett

Announcements of Warren Buffett pledging to donate over $30 billion to the Gates Foundation proliferated overnight.

What savvy business people know is that this event has been in the making for 15 years.

That's how long Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have known each other and developed both a business and personal relationship.

When Mr. Buffett reached the point where he needed to decide where his wealth could do the most good, he had options, of course.

When you have important decisions to make, you turn to people you know, like, and trust.

Buffett has four family foundations that could have been the beneficiary of his generosity -- one named for his late wife, and three run by his children.

Rather than expand one of his family foundations, however, he saw the infrastructure and results that the Gates Foundation, run by his friend Bill Gates, was achieving.

Three important lessons that will help you build a stronger business:

  1. Expand your network with highly competent people who have integrity. Are there some people who you deal with who do not ascribe to the same ethical or performance standards that you do?
  2. Your closest business relationships aren't necessarily your best customers/clients. Warren doesn't buy the most Microsoft software titles, and Bill isn't Hathaway's biggest shareholder.
  3. Avoid urgency in your business relationships. 15, 10, or even 2 years ago, this wasn't the right thing to do for Warren Buffett. When the time became right, he acted swiftly and significantly.

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