Networking is Giving … Up to a Point

Networking is Giving … Up to a Point

In an interesting post on networking this morning by David Ackert, I read the following:

The fact is that you often have to dedicate time, consideration, and referrals to your professional network long before you reap a monetary return. It’s a counterintuitive proposition, to be sure, but the rule of networking is: whoever gives more, wins.

Ackert goes on to cite Robert Cialdini’s great book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. Cialdini writes at some length in his book about the social importance of reciprocity — if you assist other people, they will feel compelled to assist you, and that is how relationships are built. Cialdini is right, to a point. I have learned a couple of refinements of the principles he describes, sometimes the hard way.

Refinement One: There are people who just don’t care, or don’t get the idea of reciprocity, or who are simply takers. After a time — and the length of time is a question of instinct, really — it becomes apparent that you are not building anything, and that continuing to provide resources to some people is simply a waste of time. Stop.

Refinement Two: You have to be careful not to overdo it. The giving you do has to be proportionate, reasonable and not stalkerish or creepy. Keep an eye on yourself, and make sure you are careful about how your generosity looks.

You do not win simply by giving more. You win by giving more, to the right people, in the right way. It’s an art.