Steve: Three reasons for this post:
- Many association management professionals as well as association members say “networking” represents one of the principle benefits of the organization.
- Today’s digital media platforms have expanded and enhanced networking.
- I’ve always admired (and tried to emulate) “connectors” – those colleagues, friends, acquaintances who have and use the ability to “link” strangers who have common interests. In fact, I recently organized a conference call to connect three strangers who I knew had a common interest.
A few years ago there was a woman I knew who had some powerful connections that probably would have been helpful to my business. She offered to make some introductions but there was always a set of caveats. I needed to essentially pay her for the contact and the price quoted was high. I refused to engage and some years passed. Now her business was in trouble and she wanted my contacts. I could have been the magnanimous type but I wasn’t. At the same time there have been people who have never stopped making introductions and providing help. They ask nothing in return but I guarantee that when I see something that might help them I am not the least bit hesitant.
It is like any other form of giving. I do not expect anything from anybody but I am delighted when someone chooses to think of me or gives in return. I give because I want to and because I can. I don’t calculate that a favor done here will yield another one there. If it does I am thankful and appreciative but I am never disappointed if nothing comes of it so long as I do not perceive the relationship to be exploitative.
Perhaps the most classic case of mutual favors involves the BIB (Business Intelligence Brief). It was just a concept when we approached Pam Whiting at the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. We did not know if anyone would read it or want it. She gave us a chance. It has been over five years and we are now all over the world with the BIB. Pam let us prove the concept and make a business out of it. In return I always try to make time in my schedule for a Chamber event when they need me.