Today @valafshar tweeted a set of great principles. One of those was “Networking is about giving.” His tweet is a gift to us, showing he is a living example of his message – thanks, Mr.Afshar.
As I mull over the statement, I have come to believe there are four types of giving as it relates to networks:
1. People give to others, who can give them something back in return – the traditional networking play. The model was successful when hierarchies controlled access to information and power. Its utility is decreasing now.
2. People share information and knowledge unconditionally using Digital networks with people they have never met – like the tweet that gave rise to this post. As a consumer, you are free to use it as you feel, with no obligation to the sender. But remember, there are many professionals who are consumers too. It’s the nature of Information to flow freely and create “network effects.” And Network effects deliver outstanding results for the sender – the very reason we find such high-value, virtuous networks on Social media.
3. People give their “quality” time to family and friends. They don’t expect anything in return. Interestingly, this behavior leads to remarkably high trust network access (and trust is the most revered currency in today’s world). Remember, the information is cascading across people who trust and value each other.
A friend spends some of his time helping relatives with their investments and has helped several loved ones navigate some tough times. Unknown to him, his reputation as a trustworthy, dependable, and expert investment advisor was spreading outward. Last week, a leading equity firm approached him for a partnership – this network had trumped impressive LinkedIn resumes and thought leadership!
4. People who give without leaving their footprint. These people are unique – it is their nature to give, and they do so without leaving a footprint. Nature favors these folks and rewards them multi-fold. Not that they care about that, though!
As I type up this post and try to quantify how much of a giver I am, I realize one thing. No matter how much I give, the Universe (family, friends, coworkers, bosses, peers, teams, neighbors, strangers, online community) provide me 100X more. We are all net receivers living in a giving world. That sure is humbling, but it’s also comforting.
The best networks don’t advertise. We get invited to participate when we turn givers. The rewards are multi-fold, and yes, they are an opportunity to share even more.
As Mr.Afshar says, networking is about giving. Indeed, only “Giver” networks matter. Remember Giving Networks scale exponentially; traditional networks grow linearly at best.