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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Gentle Networking by Chris Brogan

Chris Brogan, author of the best selling book Trust Agents is a respected thought leader as well as one of the most popular bloggers and the “go to” man for internet advice and direction. Chris is a master at building and maintaining relationships. His comments on “Gentle Networking” are clear, concise and just plain make sense—online or off. Read it, you'll love it. Janet

From Chris Brogan,

Personally, I want to hear Chris Garrett's take, as he’s written an amazing course on it, but I wanted to start talking about networking and how it relates to escape velocity. So, you’re stuck with me, until Garrett writes us up a post.  

The Benefit of Gentle Networking

Let’s define this concept: gentle networking is meeting people, really caring about being helpful, and taking it just one step further by being ready to connect that person with someone else who would benefit from the connection. In other words, it’s not what people can do for you; it’s what you can do for others. It’s a mutual appreciation society of sorts, but with the realization that we can all help grow each other’s business, if not directly, then by the friends we know.

The benefit of this, I should point out, is that it’s far less cutthroat feeling than typical networking (what’s in it for me), plus it’s got a chance of having two hits in the exchange (a face to face connection, plus the potential of meeting someone that is useful to someone else you know for later).

For an example, I’m friends with Bryan Elliott. This friendship started with just conversations. Since then, Bryan has brought me opportunities. I’ve brought him opportunities. We’ve connected each other with others in our networks. THIS is the longer value yield of gentle networking.  

It’s About Being Patient

Sometimes, we get hungry. We need success today. However, you can’t rush networking. You can’t rush friendship. You can’t rush the serendipity effect that happens from these experiences. Just like you can’t dig a hole, throw some seeds in, and wait a few minutes for the apple to fall into your hand, you have to grow your network slowly, and feed it value. You have to find opportunities to tend it, to give it light (by promoting others), and you have to give it plenty of water (or potential deal flow) to make it worthwhile.  

The Network is Everything

You’ve heard this. You also hear, as my friend Julien says often, that someone was “a pillar in his community.” Sadly, you usually hear it at funerals. But it’s true. The network is everything, if you build it the right way, and if you grow it gently.

The best way I’ve kept my network growing is by offering lots and lots of indirect value (things like blog posts and general good will), and then lots of targeted value, often without any need for money. That’s the secret. If you can do a lot for a lot of people without needing the money, then the bigger ticket paybacks end up being amazing, and you end up having a strong and powerful network. Just practice that method. It can happen.

The Karma Thing

Please note: you MUST do these things without EXPECTING anything back. This is the super secret (and really really really hard to learn) part of this. You cannot and must not sit around saying, “Well, I did this for Dave and I never got anything for it.” There’s a difference between determining someone is a sucking greedy monster and deciding not to feed them any more of your good will, but that’s really different. Expect nothing. Do because it’s what should be done. Network because the secondary effects are where the gold hides out.
Let karma figure itself out. (Replace ‘karma’ with whatever term doesn’t weird you out.)  

Go Forth and Network Gently

Do it small, even. Pick three people (no more than three) and do something good for them without them asking. Write about them. Introduce them to someone you think would help them grow. Give away something of great value to them. Repeat twice a week until it feels like second nature. Then, see what comes of it. Are you game?


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